Businesses and professionals aim to exude confidence in their audience. From doctors giving advice to patients to retailers persuading customers, language choices influence the level of trust people place in the words. My clients work with me to improve the tone of their writing — especially when they aim to persuade someone to action. In these instances, I search for two frequently-used words believe and think. Finding them in client’s text has become part of my editing process as a VA web content writer.
Using Believe in a Statement
When someone says, “I believe that…” the phrase infers opinion. The word believe is based in faith, not fact.
- be convinced by
Using Think in a Statement
Similarly, using think in a sentence implies that you do not know. The word comes just to the edge of confidence but, ultimately falls short. Saying “I think…” does not create authority.
1. particular opinion, belief, or idea about someone or something.
2. direct one’s mind toward someone or something; use one’s mind actively to form connected ideas.
- be of the opinion
- have as one’s opinion
- be of the view
- be under the impression
- regard as
- view as
If you want to create confidence in what you are saying, search for these two words in your text. Remove them from your sentences.
How to Fix It
When you remove these commonly-used phrases, your statements sound more confident.
|I think Coca-Cola is better than Pepsi.||Coca-Cola surpasses Pepsi in terms of taste and style.|
|I believe you’re looking for Professor Wu.||If you need assistance with Chemistry, Professor Wu outranks her colleageues.|
|I suppose the green shirt matches the brown pants.||The green shirt coordinates with the brown pants.|
Obviously, this tactic doesn’t apply to areas where you can’t express an answer with confidence. There may be instances where you are truly unable to assert fact or where confidence is inappropriate. In those cases, you may still improve the sentence by using different phrasing.
|I think 30% of people are nearsighted.||At this time, the DMV reports that 20% of people are nearsighted.|
|I believe polar bears are the most popular animal.||Anecdotally, many people like polar bears.|
|I suppose pizza costs $2 per slice.||I’ve seen pizza slices priced between $1 to $3.|
You can correct this by using the “find” function in any word processor. Then, revise the sentence to remove the offending phrase.
Ultimately, you can improve any piece with a series of small edits. If you want to exude confidence on a topic, avoid these two phrases and their derivatives. You’ll find that your sentences carry more authority.
As a VA web content writer, my clients rely on me to improve the tone of their writing. I’ve created lists of common style choices that impact the tone of If you enjoyed this post, check out my Web Content and Content Marketing categories. These articles include tips and ideas to enhance your text in the digital space. Also, you can follow me on Facebook to join the conversation.