The ability to communicate effectively and confidently has a huge impact on how others perceive us. Do you come across as someone who knows what she’s talking about and is sure of what she says or as someone who questions herself?
The differences in language are subtle. Women tend to apologize for their opinions. Men rarely do. Banish these nine words and phrases from your vocabulary, and see how much more assertive and confident you’ll sound.
Words we need to banish from our vocabulary:
- Just — I just wanted to pass out these materials before I get started on the presentation.
- I mean — I mean, if we want to increase our sales this quarter, we’re all going to have to get out there and work with the clients.
- Kind of/sort of — We kind of have to tell him no, even if he is the VP.
- I think/I feel/I believe — I think you’ll see that our company is well-positioned for growth.
- Could you please do me a favor? — When the vendor gets here for our meeting, could you do me a favor and call me in the conference room?
- Isn’t it? — It’s cold in here, isn’t it?
- Sorry — I’m sorry, but we need to pull together and work as a team if we’re going to get this done in time.
- In my opinion — Well, in my opinion, what we need to do is to work up the financials so that we can show management a concrete plan for achieving ROI.
- To be honest/It seems to me — To be honest, I do not agree that we should release this to clients right now. It seems to me that it needs more work.
You think you’re being polite when you couch your opinions with these words and phrases — but you’re not. You’re undermining your credibility and authority. What you’re doing when you use this type of language is apologizing and minimizing your stance.
See the difference for yourself
- With apologetic language — I’m sorry, but we just need to work through the sections on client engagement before we can release it. Could you do me a favor and maybe draft the persona so that we can integrate it into the plan? I think that will work best, don’t you?
- With assertive language — The sections on client engagement need work before we release it. What I need from you is to draft the persona so that we can integrate that into the plan. Thanks to all of you for pitching in on this team effort.
If we make a genuine effort to remove these phrases from our vocabularies, we will see a difference in how we are perceived in the workplace. We must stop sabotaging ourselves with weak language! Don’t apologize. Your opinion is valuable. It may be that others don’t agree, but that doesn’t change the fact that you and you alone own it.