Did you know that the words that you allow to come out of your mouth have FAR more power than you’re aware of?!
It’s easy to pick up self-limiting language- sentences, words, and thought patterns from our parents, significant others, friends, and colleagues. Unfortunately, we often don’t even realize the subliminal messages we are sending to others by the word choices we use.
I am a confidence coach that has worked with hundreds of women over the last 4.5 years to become aware of how their thought patterns and word choices are directly impacting their results. I know that if you are reading this article right now, you’re a driven, badass woman (whether you give yourself credit for it or not!) and I also know that you are a lifelong learner that is excited to become the absolute best you can be, both professionally and personally.
Because you are someone who wants to be a confident leader in your career and you want to ensure others see you as the leader you *know* that you are capable of becoming, shifting your word choices will be massively important to your growth.
So let’s talk about 4 specific sentences to delete from your vocab at work ASAP and why it matters:
1. “Just wanted to follow up on this!”
Get rid of the word “just”, which is a word that is making you seem smaller. This is an especially easy fix in your emails, though it’s important to begin to catch yourself saying it out loud as well. Without realizing it, you are subconsciously apologizing for your follow up and trying to make yourself more palatable to the receiver of the message. This can make the person feel like you are needy or unworthy of the follow up.
Instead, know your worth and OWN that follow up! Even if it’s the 12th follow up message with no response from this person you’re wanting to get ahold of- remind yourself that you are a determined, powerful woman that loves a good pursuit. You will not apologize for going after what you want in life! So start paying attention to how often you use the word “just”.
Some alternatives for this sentence are:
- “Following up on this email.”
- “Bumping this email to the top.”
- “What are your thoughts on the above message?”
2. “Oh sorry, let me just say this real quick…”
When you’re trying to share your idea and you apologize before you even get it out, it makes people low key assume your idea is going to suck so they’re not going to listen. In general, us as women use the word sorry far too often. Even if someone bumps into us, let’s say on an airplane when there’s a tight squeeze, we say sorry, when it wasn’t our fault at all! (BTW a great change for that one is to simply say “excuse me”.)
At work, there are times in meetings where you likely feel like you don’t deserve to be there, so you feel tempted to not share your input on certain topics. (Though of course more often than not someone else will say the idea you just had and everyone loves it and you’re kicking yourself for not being brave enough to share it first!!) And when you finally do speak up, it never feels like it’s at the right time, you feel like you’re interrupting some conversation flow, and feel like “who am I to interrupt the flow?!”. Because you’re embarrassed to interrupt the flow, you apologize first, and then softly throw out your idea. Well, the idea may be incredible, but because you apologized and then didn’t “sell” your idea as awesome, it might get disregarded.
Also, even if your idea isn’t the best, who freakin cares?! Michael Jordan is the GOAT and he only had a 50% shooting average in his career, which means if he took 20 shots in a game, he missed 10 of them! So queen, keep taking your shot! You don’t need every idea of yours to be awesome. Some will be and some won’t be and that’s to be expected!
So instead of saying sorry, what you can say is: “Great ideas everyone! And one idea I have is ____”. Start by complimenting some other idea or suggestion, and then add your idea directly after. One more tip: Be sure to say “and” after the compliment instead of saying “but”, even if you are somewhat disagreeing with the other person’s idea. If you say “Great idea, but one idea I have is…” you are disqualifying the first idea and setting a tone of competition and disagreement. By saying “and”, you are including their idea into the equations and therefore being an inclusive team player. Win win!
3. “Oh no problem, I can take care of that!”
Ladies, we’ve got to stop volunteering to do everything. I know you’re trying to be helpful but you’re more valuable than *always* being the volunteer. Especially for admin tasks. Just because you’re good at them (because we as women were taught to be good at admin crap from the age of, like, 5 while the boys weren’t expected to do any of it) doesn’t mean you need to say yes.
Instead, Let someone else volunteer and you keep your mouth shut :). Or if you are directly being asked to do it, see how you can delegate it elsewhere. If you’ve taken the notes during the last couple meetings, ask someone else that hasn’t done it before. If you’ve sent the calendar invites out the last few times, when someone turns to you to ask if you can do it again, set your boundary kindly yet firmly by saying, “You know I’ve actually done it the last few times, is there anyone else here that’s willing to do that this time?” and then just pause and look around the room. Wait for someone else to volunteer.
Or, even better yet, see if you can playfully assign it to your male coworker that has never volunteered to do anything ever and be like, “Steve, this one has your name written all over it, don’t you think?!” and laugh a bit while you say it. You see, true leaders DO support their team and aren’t afraid to do the unsexy work like taking notes or sending cal invites. But at the same time, leaders also must get used to delegating and sharing responsibilities. You can’t always be the person that takes on low level tasks (unless those tasks are literally in your job description at this time) and so there will be times where you’ll need to set boundaries so you can focus on your most important, high level tasks of the day.
4. “Does that make sense?”
If you say this after you speak on a regular basis, what you’re telling people subconsciously is that you don’t trust your voice. There have been times when I’m coaching women and the individual says it 4 or 5 times in a 10 minute span of time. When I hear that question being asked over and over again during conversation, it’s a red flag for someone who doesn’t think that they are well spoken or believes they aren’t able to clearly articulate their words. Which is generally not the case, she’s actually articulating herself extremely well, she’s just not trusting herself to do so.
Now, an exception to this rule is if you are in a place of authority and you are training someone on something and you’re checking in to make sure they’re understanding what you’re teaching them. If you’re a teacher, you might check in with your students here and there and ask if what you’re teaching makes sense.
Even then, some more empowering sentences are =
- Let me know if you have any questions.
- I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Do you need me to clarify anything?
So while this sentence is a bit more gray than the first 3 examples, I would still encourage you to say it less than you think necessary. If you’re in a meeting sharing your idea, especially in a room full of people that intimidate you, be sure to say what you need to say with confidence and if anyone has clarifying questions, simply let them ask.
Please comment below and share with me which sentence you are committed to changing, starting today! If you want to keep building your confidence, I have a free workbook for you! This will help you continue to shift your thought patterns & word choices so you can show up powerfully both in your career and in your personal life. Click here to get The #1 Way to Build Confidence Workbook for free.
Oh, and one last thing for you my beautiful friend. I want to remind you that change takes time. Now that you know these 4 sentences that instantly make you seem less confident at work, you’ll be able to make progress on choosing new, empowering language. But if and when you use one of these sentences, please don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle with yourself. Simply notice that you used the sentence, remind yourself of the verbiage you’d like to have used instead, and remind yourself that you’ll make it happen next time. Encourage yourself and be proud of yourself for making the effort, even if it’s imperfect on your journey to making the change happen. Imperfect action is better than perfectly doing nothing 😉
Alright queen. Now get out there and flex your confidence muscle!
4 Sentences That Instantly Make You Seem LESS Confident at Work | WOMENONTOPP.COM | WOMEN ON TOPP