The Guardian has a great article on words to use and not to use to make your engagements with others more successful. Certainly, if you are in the business of selling (which we all are at one time or another) the value of this advice is obvious, but I can see how it would also be of use for writers in shaping the language of a character to appear more or less confident. For example, they recommend not to use the word just, as it softens the phrase and makes the speaker seem less confident.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it – isn’t it? According to language analysts, we may have this wrong. ‘‘We are pushed and pulled around by language far more than we realise,” says Elizabeth Stokoe, professor of social interaction at Loughborough University. Stokoe and her colleagues have analyzed thousands of hours of recorded conversations, from customer services to mediation hotlines and police crisis negotiation. They discovered that certain words or phrases have the power to change the course of a conversation.