The Top Word That Makes Others Feel Inferior Is Can’t

Did You Know The Top Word That Makes Others Feel Inferior Is Can’t?


Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. – Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happiness)

“Can’t” is a word that shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s vocabulary. I refuse to believe that things can’t be done. Even in the popular saying, only an apostrophe makes the difference between impossible and I’m possible.

Have you ever noticed that some people are sometimes a little too quick to tell you why something can’t be achieved? It might be embarking on a type of project you’ve never done before. Creating a new product, launching into a new country, or even applying for a great new job.

Or any number of endeavors. I had no idea that “can’t” would be found at the Top of the list of 25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior.

Today I found a fantastic article written by John Rampton he says “When you tell someone they can’t do something, oftentimes they’ll end up believing you (whether you’re right or not). This is particularly true if the person has come to trust and respect your opinions.”

I also had no idea that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones. Robert Schrauf associate professor of applied linguistics and an anthropologist at Penn State, conducted a study and was puzzled when he began analyzing the data he collected. It showed that regardless of age or culture, we have far more words in our vocabulary that express negative rather than positive emotions.

So the question is are we hardwired to be positive or negative, particularly during difficult times? That’s a question that has been asked by many researchers and it has an impact on our beliefs about motivation and behavior. Research findings on this issue have significant implications for leaders and workplace culture.

Harvard graduate Professor of psychology Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman from University of Pennsylvania showed in their research that the negative perspective is more contagious than the positive perspective. Another study by Director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, professor John Cacioppo and his colleagues showed that our attitudes are more heavily influenced by bad news than good news. Other researchers analyzed language to study negativity bias. For example, there are more negative emotional words (62 percent) than positive words (32 percent) in the English dictionary.

Ever heard of The negativity bias? This is also known as the negativity effect and refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things. In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person’s behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative.

The negativity bias has been investigated within many different domains, including the formation of impressions and general evaluations; attention, learning, and memory; and decision-making and risk considerations.

With all this in mind it’s going to be hard not to use negatives in our daily life, but here are the top 25 negative words that Rampton highlighted in his article which he says “you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!”

  1. Can’t.
  2. Dumb.
  3. Irresponsible.
  4. Fool.
  5. No.
  6. Failure.
  7. Bad.
  8. Ashamed.
  9. In the way.
  10. Incompetent.
  11. Hate.
  12. Weird.
  13. Disappointment.
  14. Don’t.
  15. Shy.
  16. Wrong.
  17. Lazy.
  18. Inferior.
  19. Mad.
  20. Boring.
  21. Ugly.
  22. Never.
  23. Grumpy.
  24. Ridiculous.
  25. Useless.
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