“It doesn’t matter what you say. It only matters how you say it.”
I don’t know where that saying came from, but that’s a load of crap.
Sure, it matters how you say something. Your tone, body language and expressions communicate a lot about you and your message. But the actual words that you choose are equally important.
The words we use communicate a lot more about us than just our message. They communicate credibility, confidence and competence. And whether we realize it or not, there are a few words that women overuse that undermine those very things.
We actually do damage to ourselves because we allow these words to weaken our statements, and we would all be more effective communicators if we’d take these words out of our vocabulary.
Here are three words that we should stop saying in these contexts.
“I just think we should move forward with that vendor.”
This word is usually used as an explanation, but it comes across as weak, apologetic and whiny. If you take out the word, the sentence becomes stronger, more direct and confident. “I think we should move forward with that vendor.”
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“I mean why won’t that date work for him?”
Saying this before anything immediately discredits the statement or question that follows it. It sounds like a Valley girl and, above all else, communicates immaturity. Taking this out will immediately make the message more professional, confident and mature. “Why won’t that date work for him?”
“I’m sorry but can I ask a question?”
There is a time to apologize. When you’ve been mean or made a mistake, you should say you’re sorry. However, when you ask a question, contribute to a conversation, hand your child to your husband, or have another person bump into you, stop saying you’re sorry.
Women overuse this word to downplay their strengths and appear more humble and likable. But when we apologize for things that we shouldn’t, we not only communicate that we’ve done something wrong when we haven’t, but we do real damage to our own sense of self-confidence. Instead, ask your question or make your statement without apologizing for it. “Can I ask a question?”
We teach people how to treat us by the way that we present ourselves and the words that we use. You might think that one tiny word doesn’t matter, but it changes the entire statement. So the next time you’re speaking up in a meeting or talking to a friend, practice avoiding these three words. Over time, you’ll develop a habit of communicating not only your message, but also the credibility, confidence and competence goes with it.