People get emphatic when trying to convey information with passion. They often resort to hyperbole, which can leave them vulnerable to mistakes and exaggeration. Whether you are in an argument, giving a speech, or making a pitch, if you present your side with words that imply absolutes, you have to be 100 percent right or you can immediately lose all credibility.

Here are words that can get you into trouble with examples of the problem. I've also included some words below that make your argument, but still leave you room to be accurate and rational.

1. Will

"People will rush to buy the product."

Until it happens, it's not a fact and everyone knows you are speculating.

2. Always

"Millennials always think of themselves first."

Every Millennial who acts selflessly will make you look foolish.

3. Never

"Politicians never listen to their constituents."

Every town hall meeting makes you look ignorant and dogmatic.

4. Completely

"This was a completely useless exercise."

Anyone who found an ounce of value may think you are just overreacting.

5. Absolutely

"They will absolutely love this."

Human behavior is often unpredictable.

6. Definitely

"You will definitely succeed with this technique."

Rarely are things definite when any variables are involved.

7. Everything

"Everything is falling apart."

This makes you sound unobservant of everything that is holding together.

8. Everyone

"Everyone thinks lawyers are evil."

Obviously there are enough people to keep hiring them.

9. Nothing

"Nothing will make that idea better."

Probably something will, but you appear unnecessarily dismissive.

10. None

"None of the baby boomers can use technology."

Twenty-eight million boomers on Facebook make you sound like an idiot.


Here are words that can make your point while preserving your credibility.

1. Might

"This system might work with the right people."

Be smart enough to adjust for variables.

2. Possibly

"That is possibly the best solution."

Leaving open the opportunity for something better is inspiring.

3. Some

"Some people just don't get it."

And some of them do, but at least you didn't exclude them.

4. Many

"Many bosses don't listen to their employees."

You just made those who do feel really special.

5. Most

"Most salespeople are pushy."

There's always room for those who aren't.

6. Probably

"The team can probably succeed with good support."

You have now encouraged others to step up.

7. May

"That marketing copy may offend people."

Maybe it won't, but it's worth testing and verifying.

8. Almost

"Almost everyone can ride a bicycle."

A small modifier makes a big difference for those who differ.

9. Nearly

"Nearly everything in this paper is useless."

Instead of looking dismissive, you appear thorough.

10. Can

"These words can help you look smart."

There are other factors beyond just words, but it's a good start.