Phrases to avoid in writing.
They are dangerous sentiments that make your readers nervous about your intentions.
And they rob your sales copy and credibility of power.
When writing copy, it’s crucial to think about the impression you portray to your readers. Whilst you may have the best intentions for your readers, your words can mean otherwise. The last thing you want is turning off your readers because your words rub them the wrong way.
After all, you write for your readers. It isn’t about you. It’s about putting your readers first before anything else.
In fact, your readers are in it only for themselves. So, give your readers what they need and what they want to hear.
Table of contents: 10 phrases to avoid in writing
Here’s what phrases you’ll be learning about today:
- Concluding phrases to avoid in writing
Top phrases to avoid in writing
There’s a place for every word and phrase in your sales copy. And there are words and phrases to avoid in writing when trying to leave a positive impression.
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, your phrases matter. They discovered that more than half of readers grasp phrases wrong due to improper use of words.
Now, imagine turning down over 50% of your readers by accident. Imagine half of the money lost from your business because you used the wrong words. Talk about the massive missed opportunity!
Think about the user experience you leave when impacting your reader’s emotions. Would you want them leaving with a sour taste in their mouth because you used your words in error? Even if you didn’t mean it?
Regardless, it’s a lose-lose situation, so make your phrases count!
Check out these phrases to avoid in writing at all times when generating sales copy:
1. ❌ “Trust me”
There is nothing less credible or trustworthy than someone saying “trust me.” Why? Because your readers don’t want to do business with someone who feels they are above them.
It makes you sound pretentious or are all-knowing. Your readers want to do business with an expert, not a manipulator. Also, no one wants to listen to a smarty-pants.
There’s a better way to show readers your credibility.
Leave room for your readers to think and make decisions for themselves. When you leave freedom for your readers, they can make their decisions with ease.
✔️A less pompous phrase is, “I’d ask you to trust me on this, but I’d rather you decide for yourself.”
Why does it work?
The power of freedom
By giving your readers the freedom to have choices, puts them in authority to make a decision.
According to a persuasion study done in 2013, the most powerful phrases consist of BYAF terms.
And those words are “but…you…are…free…”
Phrases containing BYAF words honor the freedom to the reader receiving the sentiment.
Another study performed in 2000, solicited random strangers in public to donate money. The study found passersby donated 4 times more money when using a BYAF phrase.
And the phrase they used was, “…but you are free to accept or refuse.”
Examples of other phrases that give freedom to your readers include:
- The ball is in your court
- You decide for yourself
- The choice is yours
- You’re free to do whatever
- It boils down to you
So the more freedom your readers have, the more likely they will make a confident decision.
Remember, you don’t make your reader’s decisions.
2. ❌ “You’ll learn how to…”
No one likes generic claims. Thus, take it out of your language because it serves no purpose to your readers. These phrases to avoid in writing leave your readers unclear and unsure of what you mean.
✔️So tell them, “Walk away today knowing X methods to…”
Not only is this sentiment straight to the point, but it provides immense value to your audience. When someone reads this statement, they know exactly what they’re in for.
Why does it work?
Direct and concrete claims
Vague claims mean nothing to your readers.
Here are some sentences:
- I’ve written for many happy clients
- I will write you a long blog post
- My copywriting services are fast
- Your satisfaction guaranteed
These are great statements and all, but readers love factual concrete sentiments. The claims above are generic. They sound like sales pitches that aren’t believable to your readers.
Now, let’s take a look and turn around the above statements into precise remarks:
- I’ve written for over 500 happy clients
- You will get a 3,000-word blog post
- The turnaround for my service is 3 days
- My copywriting services provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee
Do you see the difference between generic and concrete claims? Factual statements carry more credibility, making your sentiment more persuasive to your readers.
What does science say?
There is a bias in psychology called “Confirmation Bias.” This phenomenon states people are likely to favor information that have evidence to support their past beliefs. The evidence acts as a “confirmation” to support your claim to prompt a rational decision.
It’s only human nature to believe validated statements to justify your logic.
So, equip your phrases with factual data, numbers, or exact information.
It’s more believable and persuasive to your readers.
3. ❌ “You can do it!”
Enlightening the spirit is great and all. But your viewers are reading your content because they need a solution. They seek hope and assurance for a solution to their problem.
In other words, they are seeking validation from you because they can’t do it by themselves. Your readers are more likely to justify a sentiment as true when someone else says it.
So don’t leave your readers alone in the dark.
✔️You should say, “If I could do this, then you can too.”
This statement builds a meaningful connection with your readers. It provides them aid to make a supported decision. Show them your assurance from your side of the story.
Why does it work?
Herd mentality bias
Following the herd or masses. It’s a cognitive bias of human behavior seen in psychology.
By nature, humans are social beings. We become our surroundings and often copy or seek assurance from the people around us. Thus, our emotions influence our decisions by our environment.
Have you ever bought something because you saw someone else do so?
Or, researched positive reviews and testimonials that convinced you were in for a buy?
You exercised the concept of social proof by relying on other’s experiences. By seeking insight into other’s experiences, influences your ability to make decisions.
Example of herd mentality
Imagine this, you’re in a brand new city exploring places to find dinner. You’ve been walking all day and want to ensure you have the best possible meal after a long tiring day.
At the corner of your eye, you see two restaurants side by side that offer the same type of food. You’re so hungry, that you don’t know which restaurant to choose.
You see one restaurant busy with people, enjoying themselves, and having a good time. Then, you see the other restaurant empty with the workers standing around.
So, which restaurant do you choose?
Herd mentality tells your mind to gravitate to the restaurant with more customers.
You’re likely to have a good time and enjoy your food too, based on what you see with the busy setting. It doesn’t even matter how good the food is, your brain is making a decision based on your social settings.
By choosing the restaurant with more people justifies your logic. Your rationality says you will have better food than the emptier restaurant.
So when making statements to your customers, make them feel inclusive.
Your readers are hard-wired to follow the herd.
4. ❌ “I can show you how to solve that”
Your goal as a copywriter is to solve your reader’s problems. That’s great! But your readers want their problems solved as soon as possible.
We live in a world of instant gratification. That means readers want a quick and easy solution to their problems.
✔️By saying, “Here’s a quick way to solve the problem” satisfies their impatience.
Why does it work?
Time preference in economics
Time preference is the idea in economics we place emphasis on current vs future outcomes. Meaning we prefer events that happen earlier as opposed to later.
For example, a consumer is likely to save now when interest rates are higher. As opposed to a prediction that interest rates or the economy will take a dip in market value. Thus, the rate of interest correlates to the rate of time.
Avoiding delay in prehistoric times
Would you want your reward now or later?
You’re likely to resist attaining something of value to you later on than sooner.
It’s even seen from prehistoric days when food was scarce. Animals, if they were lucky enough, had food roaming around to snatch any opportunity.
For instance, a smaller piece of prey was more valuable because it was easier to hunt. Whereas, larger prey were difficult to hunt, delaying the reward.
So, don’t leave your readers wondering when they can expect to achieve results. Deliver your solution to your readers in a manner when they want it.
5. ❌ “Honestly” or “To be honest with you”
It’s another one of the top phrases to avoid in writing for your readers.
It makes you sound like a liar.
So you were lying in your previous statements is what you’re trying to say? By admitting your honesty implies your dishonesty. Leaving your readers suspicious about who you are.
It makes your readers question your sentiment. And with that, you need to stay far away from making your reader’s nervous about your true intentions.
Give your readers one less reason to not be wary about your sentiment. So, write with the goal with the most upfront intentions with your positive value.
✔️What to say instead, “You probably already know… “
This statement affirms what they already know. Instead of giving your readers a reason to think you’re deceiving.
Why does it work?
You are not guilty until proven otherwise.
The truth-default theory assumes all people are honest beings.
Unless… you’re given a reason to doubt another person’s honesty. Whether it be subtle cues, expressions, problems, body language, or any deceiving evidence.
Statements that seem truthful, are more believable than statements that seem untruthful.
Your readers are human lying detectors. They are always in favor of the truth.
So don’t give them a reason to make them think you’re lying.
6. ❌ “I completely understand how you feel”
While it is important to empathize with your readers, there are effective ways of showing it.
First, the word “completely” is unnecessary and redundant. You either understand your readers or you don’t. There is no need to add filler words like “completely,” “absolutely,” and “exactly.
Filler words or phrases to avoid in writing is key to creating clear copy.
Instead, show your readers your side of your story to empathize with you. It builds a connection they can relate to. This is why storytelling is amongst the most powerful copywriting strategies out there.
A statement that says you care is less convincing than a story your readers relate to. When you write, have a goal to build a connection to empathize with your readers
✔️ So, when you say, “Like you, I’ve suffered from…” it sets up a story your readers resonate with.
Why does it work?
We gravitate towards people who carry the same traits, beliefs, experiences, or values. Without affinity bias, there is no emotional trigger for your readers to connect with.
Put yourself in this situation. Let’s say you are seeking to hire a new associate member to join your team. Despite their skills and abilities to do the job, you also look to see if that person will fit the culture of your team.
You ask yourself things like:
- “Can I see myself working with this person the majority of my day?”
- “Will I get along with them?”
- “Have they gone through the same path I took in my career?”
- “Do they speak the same language my department speaks?”
If you can’t imagine connecting with the person on some sort of level, you’re more than likely not going to hire them.
Your readers will relate to statements that are relevant to their experiences.
7. ❌ “Listen to me”
Do you like taking orders and demands from others? More than likely not.
“Listen to me” is another top contender of phrases to avoid in writing. In fact, completely cut this phrase’s existence from your dialogue. No one should ever take orders from a demeaning person.
Your readers will walk out of the conversation as fast as they can once they hear this. Not only does it sound condescending, but who are you to demand orders from someone?
That’s exactly what this phrase implies: superiority complex. It creates an environment of the receiver’s submissiveness and inferiority. And no one wants to be inferior.
If your readers become interested in what you have to say, they will listen when they want to.
✔️So as an alternative, you can say “I’ll explain why.”
This sentiment positions you as a figure to justify the value you’re offering. Your explanation provides a key piece of information they are seeking.
Your readers aren’t seeking demands, that’s a fact.
Add any form of egocentric, demanding, or selfish phrases to avoid in writing for your copy.
8. ❌ “I wanted to…”
Sad truth is, your readers are only in it for themselves.
That’s never going to change.
They don’t care what you want. Your readers only care what they want and what’s good for their benefit. And that’s only normal behavior!
Instead of surrendering yourself by telling them what you want, place the ball in their court. Ask them a question that gives them the power to make an informed decision.
✔️For example, “Would you like to…?”
Not only does the question force them to answer you, but it keeps the dialogue engaging.
Make the intent of your message about them, and drop yourself from the equation. Always think about the ways you can help your customers.
9. ❌ “You’re going to love it”
Other top annoying phrases to avoid in writing include assumptive claims.
Are they really going to love it?
Well, what happens if they don’t?
Don’t make false promises in case your customers end up disappointed. Your readers have the freedom to make a decision based on what makes them happy, not you. Statements that assume, are statements that turn your readers off
“You’re going to love it” not only sounds like cheap selling, but it’s not compelling evidence. In fact, it provides no value to your readers that no one will believe and it’s unprofessional.
Show your readers, don’t tell.
✔️Say, “This will provide value to you by…”
Make your readers love your service by providing what’s in it for them. Not by shoving assumptions down their throat.
10. ❌ “Thank you for your time”
It’s only generous to show courtesy and respect, props to you. But close the conversation with value. Opposed to admitting you stole your reader’s time they will never get back.
So, don’t admit to you stealing your reader’s time. Instead, admit the key takeaways you provided to your reader. They will be thanking you for your time.
“Thank you for your time” also sounds as if you are brushing your readers away. Like you have something else more important to take care of and you don’t want to talk to them. Get rid of the non-sense awkwardness that provides no value.
Your readers don’t need to hear “thank you” for something to be valuable.
✔️By saying, “Was this helpful for you?” makes your readers acknowledge you indeed helped them. If it wasn’t helpful for your readers, it’s an opportunity for you to keep the conversation going.
Concluding phrases to avoid in writing
Who knew there was so much psychology involved in writing?
It’s all about using the right words and phrases that make your readers tick!
As you now see, framing your words in the best light possible manner makes a massive difference. You must be careful of not turning down your readers because a subtle phrase that rubbed them wrong.
What are the main takeaways from phrases to avoid in writing?
- Take yourself out of the picture at all times. It’s never about you.
- Your customers come first no matter what.
- You can have the best intentions in your word usage, it doesn’t mean your readers comprehend it the same way.
- Be cognizant of your audience, their emotions, and time.
- Go back, test, and edit your copy. You’ll likely find words and phrases that don’t sound right when you read them again.
Write to put your readers first. Your readers are looking for those words and phrases they want to hear, not what you think sounds good.
What are some phrases to avoid in writing that you have?
Share them in the comments below!