The ‘Thinks’ That Hold You Back

Did you know that it might actually be how you state things not what you say that holds you back?

Related Link: The Saboteurs of Success

Have you ever started a sentence with the following words:

‘You may not believe me but…’
‘I’m sorry to say this but…’
‘Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think that…’
‘I don’t mean to be an ass but…’

What you say in not what people hear!  How we negatively prime our audience

Someone I was speaking to the other day started her sentence by saying: “I’m sorry to say this but I really believe that… “, and it got me wondering: Why are so many of us so worried about how people will view our beliefs, our opinions, our thoughts and our feelings?

When we begin a sentence by an apology, a suggestion that we will not be believed, or that we are going to be stepping out of line in some way, we are preparing our audience to automatically expect something unpleasant. Even though what you’re saying may be something as mundane as: ‘You may not believe me but I like to eat raw fish.’

Ask yourselves, why are you starting your sentence with a negative? Are you unsure of your own beliefs? Are you looking for someone to validate what you’re saying for you? Why shouldn’t people believe you?

Putting some sort of qualifier before stating something you think, feel or believe just weakens what you’re saying. It undermines your credibility and your authority before you’ve even made a statement!

So what do you do about it?!

How to Say What You Want to Say

When you start a sentence with a negative, you’re conditioning your listeners to look for negatives. Think about what you really want to say and if you want people to believe you, don’t tell them not to.

‘You may not believe me but I interviewed 40 candidates.’
‘I interviewed 40 candidates.’
Which sentence sounds more sincere?

‘I don’t mean to be an ass, but this graph is waaay out of scale.’
‘This graph looks out of scale, do you think you can fix it?’

If you don’t mean to be an ass, then don’t be one! If you think you people might take something the wrong way, rephrase the sentence in your mind first!

I assure you your boss won’t believe you if you start by telling him not to! I assure you your colleague will think you’re an ass if you start by telling her you don’t want to be one.

Whether you’re the interviewer or the interviewee, whether it’s a business meeting or a family gathering, keep the effects of what you say in mind.

Related Link: Find work on

Be assertive. Don’t condition people’s thoughts! Be firm and confident, say exactly what you mean without being mean, and don’t defend yourself if no one has challenged you yet!

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