How many of you start a sentence with the very common phrase “I think…”? Every time I need to buy some time in a conversation I use this phrase. Sometimes I am not sure whether I am really invited to open up about an idea or to make a judgement. Some other times, I hope something else will come up and I will not have to speak up. Or some other times, I am still looking for the proper words to lay out unpleasant facts without getting too personal. The fact is, every time we use the “I think” phrase we annoy the interlocutor and we give the impression of being less assertive, less decided and a lot apologetic.
Let me give you an examples. One of the most frequently used question in interviews is:
Why would we hire you?
And these would be the two potential answers:
Answer A: I am motivated, I am determined to succeed and my work experience perfectly matches your job description.
Answer B: I think I am motivated and determined and I believe my experience matches your job description.
Do you feel the difference? The first answer is powerful and direct and demonstrates self-esteem – a trait that employers are more and more looking for in their employees. Studies have suggested that employees who possess a high self esteem are more successful in their jobs. They view challenges as opportunities to progress and benefit from, and, they have a more positive view on life.
The second answer is not as determined. It actually leaves the impression that you are doubting yourself. I could very well have answered: “I am not sure if I am motivated and determined but I hope my experience matches your job description…” Not something that the hiring manager wants to hear. Plus, if the question is addressed to you, clearly the answer needs to come from you and to reflect what you think! No need at all to start the answer with a redundant “I think…”