'I Feel Like' Is the Newest Controversial Phrase You Should Avoid

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Cogito ergo sum: I think; therefore, I am. Four hundred years after Descartes philosophized about the connection between thinking and existing, society has shifted away from declaring thoughts in favor of vaguely expressing feelings.

The proliferation of the phrase “I feel like” in everyday speech is prime evidence of this phenomenon. In this weekend’s New York Times “Sunday Review,” author and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Molly Worthen published an op-ed condemning the rise of the phrase and explaining its damaging effects.

Saying “I feel like” is a nonassertive, fearful way to introduce an idea, Worthen writes. In protecting the person who says it from being judged or offending anyone, it also “halts argument,” because it suggests to others that they cannot understand or challenge the speaker’s subjective feelings and experiences.

Everyone has their own interpretation of common phrases and their connotations. Entrepreneur’s contributors periodically share their feelings (or should we say, steadfast convictions) about which ones to avoid. When you’ve finished cleaning up your vocabulary with the following five lists, tell us what you think: Is “I feel like” ever an appropriate way to introduce your idea? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.

"Avoid These 6 Phrases When Trying to Sound, and Feel, More Assertive"

“I guess” tops this list, but seemingly assertive words like “can’t” and “don’t” also appear. Contributor Jeff Boss encourages people to contemplate the meanings behind their words.

He also includes “I think,” which is interesting, given that it’s a potential alternative to “I feel like.”  Boss’s preference is “I believe.”

"9 Phrases Smart People Never Use In Conversation"

Contributor Travis Bradberry provides a roundup of insults, some of which are more obviously offensive than others. He then offers substitutes that take the backhand out of backhanded compliments.

One subtle suggestion is to stop wishing people “Good luck!” Similar to “I feel like,” luck invokes the abstract.

"Don't Embarrass Yourself Saying These 12 Commonly Misstated Phrases"

Sometimes, how language comes across isn’t just a matter of feeling. Often, people use the wrong words to say what they mean.

Let contributor John Rampton correct your grammar so you don’t make a fool of yourself during your next phone call or presentation.

"Why I Stopped Using 'Actually' and 'But' In My Customer Service Emails"

It’s so tempting to throw in an “actually” or a “but” when comparing perception with reality. But you may come off as a know-it-all, contributor Carolyn Kopprasch warns.

Sometimes, all it takes is cutting out these words (and not replacing them with an alternative) to convey a positive, friendly tone.

"5 Phrases You Need to Stop Saying to Your Employees"

Entrepreneurs need to be careful. Being in a position of power means your words carry extra weight, contributor Andre Lavoie says, so it’s important not to equivocate.

Learn how to express yourself when managing others, even when you’re uncertain or conflicted.

Edition: December 2016

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