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3 Common Phrases Every Leader Should Eliminate Today

You and I say things as leaders that work for us. And we say things that work against us.

Sometimes we know we’re saying counterproductive things … and sometimes we don’t. The latter is what this article is about.

The words you speak as a leader can make you a better leader … or create the opposite effect.

Often, you and I say certain phrases without thinking because, well, everyone says them. Yet saying the wrong words or phrases repeatedly sets up a self-defeating pattern simply by being part of our vocabulary.

A while ago, I wrote about three words every leader should banish from their vocabulary.

Today, I want to look at three common phrases to eliminate.

Unless I remind myself to stop saying these three phrases, I say them every day. And they never help me lead well. In fact, they do the opposite.

So what are they?

Three Common Phrases Leaders Should Eliminate

Here are the three phrases I’m banishing from my vocabulary as a leader.

1. I’ll try.

You’ve said it. I’ve said it a thousand times:

I’ll try to get that done today.

I’ll try to make the meeting.

I’ll try to get home by 5.

I’ll try to get to the gym three times a week.

Which usually means, you don’t.

Think about it: When someone tells you they’ll try to get something done, you likely run it through a translation filter that tells you they might not get it done. At least I do.

Saying you’ll try leaves you with an out. And often under that out is fear (I hate the gym!) or a lack of forethought (which really devalues the person who’s hearing your half-promise) or even self-centeredness (I’ll be home by 5 if it’s convenient for me).

Why leave yourself with an out?

Just commit.

Either go to the gym three times a week or stop talking about it.

Get home by 5 or be realistic.

Move the project out the door when you said or stop promising false delivery dates.

Eliminating I’ll try from your vocabulary stops you from predicting failure before you start.

And eliminating I’ll try will help you lead better because you’ll simply be more honest in every conversation you have, including the conversations you have with yourself.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.