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Verbal Communication Speech Barriers Examples List

Effective verbal communication is one of the vital interpersonal relationship skills and use of negative words the most important verbal barrier you should either avoid or use rarely in both personal and professional life situations. when you're talking to yourself, inner voice or intrapersonal communication or while talking to others, avoiding these words can build interesting human relationships. It is a life skills and you can master it once you identify the list of negative words in our daily conversations.

Negative Words, Phrases Statements Examples List
Negative Words, Phrases
Statements Examples List
You must avoid certain words, phrases and statements as it may hurt others. This simple mnemonic, I LOVE TO FOOL SAD RABBITS, CATS AND PIGS summarizes a list of negative words; what not to say:-

  1. Interrupting Words
  2. Long explanations
  3. Overemphasis
  4. Vague
  5. Ever thought/Never thought
  6. Threaten
  7. Outbursts
  8. Fancy language
  9. Opinion words
  10. Order
  11. Luck
  12. Sarcasm
  13. Assumptive
  14. Diverting
  15. Compare
  16. Abstract
  17. Taboo
  18. Suspecting
  19. Reduntant
  20. Argumentative
  21. Boasting
  22. Blame
  23. I and U 
  24. Truth/facts
  25. Stereotype
  26. Ambigous
  27. Negative
  28. Demeaning
  29. Past/future
  30. Intimate
  31. Generalizing
  32. Superlative

1. Interrupting and Distraction

In many business presentations, the presenter senses audiences who ask too many questions, one after the other. Perhaps, the best way to handle it is to remind the audience that the questions will be taken towards the end of the presentation. This can be done using polite phrases like, "Shall we keep all the questions towards the end of the session?" or "Ok, you have another question? Go ahead, but this would be the last question that will be able to take at this moment."

Audience who interrupt the presentation can be termed as distracting audience. for example:
1. Audience who takes many phone calls in between the session. Solution: In the beginning, presenters can remind the audience to switch off the mobile phones.
2. Audience who talk to each other during the session. Solution: A polite phrase like, "May I know what you discussing, if it is relevant let all of us talk about it."

Long Explanations

Unless it is necessary, talking for too long, giving explanations and information may be waste of time of both the party.


A Customer service executive can stick to the point rather than providing long explanations by cutting short the conversation


Blowing things up can affect the credibility in a social situation. People may not believe you if you either understate or overstate an actual situation.


The is VERY, VERY bad, I EXTREMELY hate his actions are some examples of overemphasis.


These are vague words or phrases that adds little value during any interaction.
Examples include, Etc, on..and many...

Economical Words are Short Phrases

Long cluttering words and phrases--sometimes called wordy phrases--can be replaced with short phrases and words. Economical words not only make a business letter easy to understand, but also saves time. Many long sentences could be replaced with short phrases and simple words.

Long Phrases/Words Versus Short Phrases/Words
•           Along the lines of - like
•           For the purpose of - for
•           In accordance with - by
•           With regard to - about
•           Accustomed - used to

           Benefit - use

Ever Thought/ Never Thought

When a person achieves something great and you say, "I never thought YOU could do it" will make the other person inferior. This statement actually means, "I thought you didn't have the capability to do it but you did it"

Threatening words

Even during lighter situations, you must avoid threatening words like, "I'll kill you", "Do not mess with me", "You do not know how bad I'm"


Shouting, screaming and yelling should be avoided. If you are upset about the situation, you can just leave the place politely.

Fancy Language

Keep your language simple. use of jargons can both be confusing and uninteresting to the other party

Opinion Words, Phrases and Statements, Judgements 

Making judgements or being judgemental or using judgemental statements can sometimes become a verbal communication barrier during social interactions. We make judgements based on certain visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and touch evidences which may not be always true. Many stereotype statements are judgemental too. For example, "All men are physically stronger than women", "Educated people are richer than uneducated". Based on past experience many of us tend judge people's behavior and action.

  • He is wearing a decent dress, so he knows how to behave well with others.
  • He speaks very soft and kind, so he will never hurt anyones' feelings.
  • He never kept his promise, so I won't trust him.


Replace your ordering tone of voice into polite, courteous, and kind tone of voice.


Instead of saying, "Come here and sit down", say, "Please come here and kindly take your seat"


When a person has worked hard to achieve something and you say, "You must be lucky to achieve this", all his/her hardwork has not be considered.


Statements like, "You look so beautiful" when, actually, you want say, "You look ugly".


  • I know he is a lyer, because he always lie.
  • He looks tired, I think he has not slept last night

Diverting from main Subject/Irrelevant

deviating from main point and beating around the bush.Stick to the subject, deviating from the topic will affect the quality of the interaction. One the best ways to handle irrelevant questions is to put back the question to the audience by asking, "May I know how this question is related the subject?" and then ignore the question by saying, "If the  question is not relevant, then we have to disregard it for the moment, please"

Comparing Phrases and Statements

Examples include, "Why don't you learn from him", "You both are of same age and look how good he is able to manage things and you have to learn from him".

Abstract Vs Concrete

Instead of saying, "I will send the report next week", which is abstract, you can say concretely, "I will send the report before the end of next Wednesday"Concrete vs Abstract Words
Every business communication text book talks about abstract and concrete words. Beating around the bush, roundabouts and stating messages indirectly are some examples of being abstract. A business letter must be straight to the point, clear and crisp in communicating the message.

Here is a list of concrete and abstract words examples

Concrete vs Abstract
•           A 7 percent profit - A huge profit
•           100 percent record - Good record
•           89 percent - Majority
•           By today - Soon


Use of statements like, "Did you REALLY do this art?", "Didn't you HONESTLY didn't know that I called you last night?"


Redundancy, also called tautology or pleonasm, is one of the common verbal communication barrier. It is unnecessary repetition of words that doesn't add value to the language usage.
  1. All I want is the end result that matters.
  2. See, Did you notice that we both are wearing the exact same color clothes
  3. Unnecessary repetition of words consume time and energy for both the writer and the reader. Some of the examples of tautology, where one of the words is sufficient, include:
    •           Since because (because or since; not both)
    •           Rough estimate (rough or estimate)
    •           If suppose (if or suppose)
    •           Revert back (revert or get back; not both)
    •           Repeat again (repeat or again)
Avoiding repeating your words, phrases and statements during any interaction as this might sound boring and it affects the quality of your interaction.


These audience, who quarrel or disagree with the presenter, can easily handled once presenter divides the quarrel into two categories. One, quarrel on facts; two, quarrel on opinion.
Quarrel on facts can be triumphed over by saying, "It is a fact, and I will give the source of reference after the session"
Quarrel on opinion can be won by saying, "It is an opinionated topic and everyone has their own view"


Expert audience are those who already know the subject of discussion more than the presenter. One of the safest method to handle expert audience is to involve them in the discussion. Nevertheless, the presenter should have the ability to control expert audience by bringing the expert to objective orientated discussion so that the topic is not deviated.


Blame can affect both social relationships; professional and personal
    Never blame your previous employer during a job interview
    Never blame your own organization during a customer service call
    Never blame your spouse in social situations

I and You statements during negative situations

This is one kind of blame. "You did this mistake", "You threw the newspaper", "You broke the bottle". Replace I and You statements with passives such as, "There has been a mistake", "The newspaper has been thrown" or "The bottle has been broken".

Truth - Facts

During negative situations, quoting facts should be avoided unless it is required.
As a customer service representative your customer has not paid the bills and you have a fact sheet that proves his/her irregularity, do not show the fact sheet unless your customer disagrees to this fact.


Cracking jokes or making fun on topics that are based on gender, nationality, or ethnicity should be avoided in the communication.
Above all, generalized statements are risky and, sometimes, confusing. Example phrases that are risky to talk to customers include:
“All girls have this habit”
“Universally men are like that”
“This community has a peculiar ritual”
Target a group into criticism is stereotyping. Example statements include, "All men are like this", "All Woman have a problem", "Managers have no sense".
racial Stereotypes and Age Concepts in an email. A business letter should not contain words that evoke racial discrimination or politically incorrect words. Racial stereotypes include words such as negro, colored, black, oriental etc. And, one must also carefully choose words related to aging concepts. a good email etiquette include replacing the words like old, aged, with words like senior, or elder.


Examples of ambiguous words include may be, kind of, probably, not sure, approximately, around. Use concrete words wherever possible during an interaction.
Instead of saying, "I kind of liked the movie", say, "I liked the movie"

Negative words

Examples of negative words include, "hate", "No", "Never", "Don't", "Problem".
You can replace the negative words with positive words without changing its meaning.
Instead of saying, "No problem", say, "That's fine". Say, "I appreciate if you can do this for me", instead of saying, "I don't appreciate that"


Deameaning words are emotional upsetting and rude. Evading Demeaning or Degrading Words in a Business Letter Email etiquette at work is about respect, consideration and honesty for others. Some expressions may be offensive regardless of intention. Words such as sweetie, dear, honey, boy/girl (while referring to an adult man/lady) are called demeaning words.

Past and Future phrases and Statements

Example of a past statement, "I told you not to do it, and you never listened to me. So you suffer"
Example of a Future statement, "This will never work. I bet you will not succeed"

Better Words for Illness or Disability

In an email, words such as blind, diseased, or handicapped should be avoided while addressing the people with illness/disability. A professional business letter must be replace these sensitive words with euphemized words such as visually impaired, differently abled, or physically challenged.

Intimate Words

Unless you know a person very well, or you have eligible relationship such as wife, son, daughter, use of intimate words like, "I love you", "May I know how much money you make", Or "May I know how old are you" can disturb your social relationships.
Obviously, the intimacy level differs from one person to another. Care should be taken to choose words, phrases, statements that are appropriate to the kind of relationship during conflict resolution.

Generalized Words

Examples of generalized words include all, everybody, nobody, everyone can bring conflict during an interaction. Replace generalized words with words like, "Almost", "Several", "As far as I know", "As per my knowledge", "One of the...", "Most of the..."
Instead of saying, "All politicians are corrupt", say, "Almost all politicians are corrupt", or, "Most of the politicians are corrupt"

Sexist Language

Sexist language: If a customer pays promptly, He will be given a gift.

Gender-neutral/Inclusive: A customer who pays promptly will be given a gift.Sexist, Inclusive and Gender-neutral Language are Similar
One of the basics of email etiquette is eliminating sexism. A business letter that consists of words such as manpower, manmade, chairman and businessman are considered as male dominant words. These words could be replaced with gender-neutral language such as human resource, artificially made, chair person and business person. Other examples of inclusive language include replacing pronouns such he and she.


Superlative adjectives like "Simple" or "Easy" is relative. Something that is simple to you may not be simple to the other.

When do you Avoid these Negative Words

Avoid these negative words when you're:
  1. Resolving intrapersonal conflicts
  2. persuade someone
  3. empathize or sympathize with someone
  4. build rapport
  5. narrate stories or anecdotes
  6. As a persuasive statement
  7. When you're introducing yourself
  8. As transition statements in speech
  9. As presentation attention getter
  10. While giving compliments
  11. During assertive communication
  12. When you like to say, "NO" politely
  13. Delivering persuasive presentation
  14. When you are giving feedback
Besides other common verbal communication barriers such as redundant words, generalized statements, mother tongue influence (MTI), verbal fillers, making judgments is yet another common verbal communication barrier that hinders effective verbal communication.

What we talk in social conversations is partly the result of what we think within ourselves called intrapersonal attitude. So in order to eliminate these negative words you should work on both, your intrapersonal as well as interpersonal behavior.

Good language usage includes both what to communicate and what not to communicate during an interaction. Besides using good rapport building words and transition phrases, you should also know those phrases that as to be avoided during any conversation. Whether you are taking an job interview or handling customers in a customer service, or having a social interaction, you must know what not to say that includes a list of negative words, phrases and statements. Language usage is one of the vital interaction skills that inturn enhances your interpersonal social relationships.

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