When Jessica Pearson in Suits takes on men in the legal world, you really want to be her. You want her gumption, her executive presence and the ability to rule the world regally, yet effortlessly – just like her!
That is the power of being able to communicate confidently and use that executive presence to attain success – even in a male dominated world.
But she is the pinnacle of that kind of success, the epitome of the image we aspire to acquire and it’ll take us a few steps to begin with…let alone get there.
In this Linkedin live session, I discuss 3 small but critical things that undermine our own authority.
Small things make a huge difference and a great first step would be to watch out and avoid these in your daily interactions.
DON’T USE “JUST”
– I just wanted to check if you are free
– I am just a small business owner
– I am just suggesting that…
What do you think is wrong with these sentences?
In all the above sentences, the use of the word “just” is undercutting the importance of the message.
The moment we say it’s “just” something, the listener or the reader of your message (in emails) considers this unimportant. And you will not get the interest or trust you are looking for for your message or your ideas.
Let’s look at another example.
I was recently talking to a friend who said that she is “just” a teacher – she has years of experience and is pretty good at what she does.
But the fact that she believes she is “just” something will not only prevent her from projecting confidence but – even if she doesn’t say that aloud – will affect her mindset and confidence. And that vibe passes on to how others perceive too.
Try saying things without “just”. Make a conscious effort to not do that! Say:
– I was checking in to see if you are free tomorrow
– I am suggesting that…
– I am a proud home maker/business owner
Add confidence to your voice as you say it and voila! you start communicating confidently.
DON’T SAY SORRY
I recently pointed out to someone a different way of doing something other than how she had done it. It was a suggestion. But pat came a “sorry” from her for doing the way she had done the project.
I wasn’t fault-finding and I definitely wasn’t looking for an apology. But that seems like a default response for a lot of us.
According to this study, women apologise more than men do and that is a direct hit on their self-esteem.
I am not asking you to fight battles to keep your ego in tact. I am not saying that sorry will make you appear weak.
I am just saying – don’t say sorry at the drop of a hat.
Did you notice how using “just” undermined the power of that sentence? I am going to try that again –
I am saying – Don’t say sorry at the drop of a hat.
Apologising for no good reason chips away your confidence and chews up your authority as a person! You may also be considered a push-over.
If a situation genuinely demands an apology, do it. If you hurt someone or you really do feel someone deserves a sorry, say it by all means.
Here’s another list of 25 words you should never say by Forbes
DON’T ADD QUALIFIERS
The meeting is on. The men speak up confidently. When it’s time for the women to speak – who are anyways in minority – they not just start gingerly but the first words that come out of their mouth also undermine their authority.
Hedging or tentative speech is something that women seem to excel at. And by using tentative qualifiers before our ideas, we are responsible for our own folly.
Studies cited in this HBR article – and I quote –
Women are likely to downplay their certainty; men are likely to minimize their doubts.
I think I can try
I feel that – but I might be wrong –
I think this might work
What I am really saying is
It must be fairly easy
I was rather wondering
This might be rather fairly easy to find out
None of the above sentences have a strong start. Each phrase is trying to buy the benefit of the doubt when none is required. Doing something like this is a sure way of losing the listeners’ confidence – for both men and women.
Think of what exactly you want to say and say it loud and clear. Your communication style determines how you are perceived among your team members.
READ THIS: 10 tips for women in the corporate world
I hope these tips will help you communicate more confidently from now. It’s just about consciously avoiding these mistakes. You can also practice with a friend, if required.
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