Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.


That’s the word for the fillers and qualifiers we inject into our speech and writing.

Don’t get me wrong: hedges can be useful - for clarity, for avoiding arrogance or softening a harsh message. But too often they add no value or undermine our message and our authority. 

See what you think of my selection.

Good hedges

'At this stage...' (Suggesting that things may change)

'I'm sorry to say that ..' and  'Unfortunately...' (Expressing empathy)

'Approximately' and  'about' (May be necessary for clarity)

 Hedges to avoid

'I think...' (Just say it.)

'You know what I mean?' (Yes,of course we do!')

'If that makes sense...' (Of course it does and until now we wouldn't have thought that you would say things that didn't make sense.)

'I would like to apologise for...' (Okay in speech, but in writing, just apologise.)

'I just want to say that...' (Hey, it's just me.)

'Well, that's my opinion anyway.' (Oh well, it doesn't matter then.) 


Okay - if we use them appropriately

Keep asking yourself, 'Do I really need this qualifier, or is it just undermining my message?'.







To some extent






'You cannot reason people out of an opinion they have not reasoned themselves into.'

That's a modern way of saying what Jonathon Swift observed in 1721. 

Wouldn't persuasion be so much easier if we humans were entirely logical? The research makes it clear that we're not. We just think we are. 

We treat our own opinions as more logical and well-informed than other people's opinions. We may not go as far as talking about alternative facts and rejecting other people's information or opinions as fake news, but it's only human to struggle with objectivity.

How much of a struggle?

Psychologists have studied more than 90 ways we humans compromise our objectivity. Let's just look at a selection.

About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are positive psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books, six e-books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph lives in rural Canterbury. He is a JP and marriage celebrant and enjoys travelling to French-speaking countries.

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