I work with many women who say they want to find their voice. They want to have input at the table. They want to appear confident and competent.
I’ve found that sometimes it is what we do not say that is more powerful than what we do say. I’ve learned that women must stop saying certain things that when said, have the impact of giving power away. Power in this context simply means “ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.”
The first step to giving your power away verbally is to notice. Notice as you move through your day when you are about to say these phrases. Notice the situation you are in and stop. Don’t let these words out. Take a breath and find something else to say.
You are already confident and competent. Just choose your words wisely and stop saying:
“I’m Sorry.” Unless it is truly your fault. This is the one phrase that when I tell women we have to stop saying this all the time, most of them smile with guilt. It is a default of ours that we use because we want people to like us. Saying this when it’s not necessary indicates passivity.
“Does that make sense?” Of course it does, you said it. A better phrase to insure understanding is simply “Do you understand?” or “Do you have any questions?”
“But,” negates all you said before that word. Instead of saying “No…but,” or “Yes…but,” practice saying “Yes…and.” It shows that you are in agreement and gives you the opportunity to express your opinion and provide your input.
The worst sentence you could say is “I’m sorry, but does that make sense?”
“I could be wrong, but…” You could be wrong. Of course you could be wrong. We all could. Just don’t point it out for others to agree with.
“If I’m being honest…” When people say this, it just begs me to ask, “Aren’t you always honest?” It makes me question their honesty previously and subsequently.
“I’m no expert.” I want to scream when I hear someone say this. Don’t dare undermine you, what you know, and what you are capable of. Sure, you may not be an expert, but you do have an informed opinion so give it without undermining yourself.
The second most deadly sentence to use is, “I could be wrong, and if I’m being honest, I’m no expert.”
Just start to practice noticing when you use language that undermines who you are, then change your words. Let me know what you notice.
What words or phrases are you aware of that give away your power?