If you don’t know, my 8 to 5 job is in the utility industry, and I’m part of a unique community called Women In Power. Over the last few days, we’ve had interesting discussions over being female in a male dominated industry, but the topic that has really stood out to me – and with others- is how our language can affect how we’re perceived in the workplace.
An article from Forbes proclaims “How Women Can Stop Apologizing and Take Back Their Power” calls for us to stop and think how many times we apologize throughout the day and how we should be more intentional with thoughts and words. Apologies should only be used when we’ve done something wrong, not when you ask someone to send you a report, or if a meeting day doesn’t work in your schedule.
A Harvard Business Review article says women who use minimizing language at work actually hurt their careers.
Think about other phrases that slip into your communications….
- I’m no expert but …. you did have an idea you thought would work, so own it.
- In all honesty…..aren’t you honest all the time?
- I’m just….no, you are whatever it is – not just anything. Using just, just weakens your message.
- This will only take a moment…let them know you need their time.
- I’ll try to get you….that shows you’re unorganized. Pick a date a meet it.
- I think you should…you’re allowing the reader to choose to ignore your advice.
You can retrain yourself to reframe the thoughts and you appear more decisive, confident and professional. For example…“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it that day.” is a better alternative than apologizing for not being able to meet at a time someone suggested. Use this line and offer an alternative suggestion.
“Could you send me that report.” This is better than “if it’s not to much trouble can you…..”
“Thank you for being here. I look forward to sharing ideas today. “ Sounds like you value a persons time in a meeting versus “this will only take a moment” or “sorry to interrupt your day.”
Another colleague shared some advice given to her…instead of saying you’re sorry, turn the apology into an appreciation.
For example, I’m sorry for the delayed response becomes “I appreciate your patience on the matter.” It stopped unnecessary apologies and provided a lift to the recipient.
Another suggested replacing the words I’m sorry with Thank You. For example, I’m sorry to ask you for a favor….becomes thank you for being someone I can depend on.
Think about your word choices this week and make notice if your words are undermining your message. Talk to a trusted co-worker and ask them to help you keep track of what you’re doing or point out times you might not even recognize. Then consciously try and eradicate the minimizing language so your presence and contributions are seen.
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