Assessment Solutions

Words Your Mother Let You Use, But Shouldn’t Have.

Bruce Mazzare MDSBy Bruce Mazzare

Most of us were trained not to use the “slap in the face” or “eat soap” four letter words. But we were allowed to use words that have the power to shift our mindset. Research (our mothers didn’t know about) has shown there are three phrases in particular that should be completely eliminated:

  1. BUT

Think about this sentence: “My wife and I want to share quality time this weekend, but I have a mountain of work to do.”  When you use “but” you are forced to make a choice. Substitute “and” for “but” and options are open to you. “My wife and I want to share quality time this weekend, and I have a mountain of work to do.”  Now, you can prioritize what you really want and need to do.

  1. I HAVE TO

No one likes to think they have to do something.  By saying  these three words, you are training your mind to think that what you need to do is a chore, rather than an opportunity. For example, “I have to study this report so I’ll be prepared for tomorrow’s meeting” could be said, “studying this report will prepare me for tomorrow’s meeting.” What you want to do is look at your responsibilities as a gateway to opportunity, not a fulfillment of a duty.

  1. I CAN’T

“I can’t” implies that we either don’t have the ability, time or, in reality, we don’t want to do the task or commitment. Replace “I can’t” with what you mean such as “Let me think about it before I commit” or “I already have something planned for that time” or “I’m not sure I have the time or ability to do that task, can you give me more information?”

You will be amazed at what you can do, how confident you will become, and how positively people with respond to you when you eliminate “I can’t” from your vocabulary.

Back in the day, many of our mothers didn’t know our words have power and set our destiny. By stripping “but,” “I have to” and “I can’t” from our vocabulary, our words can remind our minds that we have the ability to make choices — not excuses.

Bruce Mazzare, Founder and CEO of Management Development System has over 40 years of experience in leadership training. For more information, contact




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