Dilution Ad Nauseam: Stop being Wishy-Washy

Photo by Ryan McGuire

There are some words that can dilute a message. Let’s call these wishy-washy words because they weaken vocal emphasis.

These phrases and words are:

• I think…
• I feel…
• I believe…
• If…
• I want you to…
• We need to…

For example, take these two sentences.

  1. I think we need to end the war in Iraq. (Really? You think so?)
  2. We must end the war in Iraq. (This is a stronger statement.)

If a person is stating an opinion, it is obvious that they think it. Adding the words “I think” make the conversation about themselves rather than the issue at hand.

Choose the right tone for your message

Saying I think , I feel, if or I believe can dilute our message:

  • If you vote for me… (if?) becomes: When you vote for me…
  • I’d like to be that president…(so would a lot of people!) becomes: I’ll be that president…
  • I believe we should abandon our manufacturing of the buggy whip — becomes: We must abandon our manufacturing of the buggy whip; the horseless carriage is destroying our market. (If you are stating an opinion it is sort of obvious you believe or think it.)
  • I want you to take out your business card and give it to another person in the room — becomes: Take out your business card and give it to another person in the room. (Making a request about you can cause some folks to resist.)

Sometimes, saying “I think, I feel, I believe” is EXACTLY what to say:

  • I think we should turn left (if you are unsure which way to go).
  • I believe I can fly (This is also the title of a great song. It effectively says “I believe”; the song is a powerful expression of faith and belief ).
  • I feel hurt by your comment that I am “making this all about me.”

Notice if you are using hedging words that reduce the impact or tone of your message by habit or by choice.


By Allegory Inc. CEO Christina Harbridge, Leadership/Influence Hack who believes humans are deliciously irrational & emotional. Learn more at http://allegoryinc.com or download Christina’s newest book Swayed via Amazon today.


This post is an edited excerpt from her first book, Your Professionalism is Killing You, copyright Christina Harbridge.

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