It’s no secret that I am a big believer in the power of words. Being a Word Wizard is my super-power and it’s how I serve others in the world. You would think that would make me immune to bad habits in my speech…and you’d be wrong!
It’s time to break these bad speech habits that get in the way of our success.
Minimizing –A few days ago, I caught myself saying something that put a big dent in my credibility. One word…four little letters…has the power to minimize or erase the importance of everything that comes after it. Can you guess what that word is?
It’s the word “just.” I realized that I do it quite unconsciously and far too often. Do you do it too? Whew! So glad I’m not alone.
Think back on your conversations over the last week. How many times have your minimized yourself, your ideas or your accomplishments by using the word “just?”
“I’m just a …”
“It’s just an idea.”
“We’re just a small business.”
“It was just a local award.”
How much more powerful would it be and how much more powerful would you feel saying those sentences without the word “just” in them? Try it.
Women are especially prone to using “just” and other qualifiers and minimizers in their communication. Many of us were taught that proper and polite women should not sound too assertive in their speech. We guard against assertiveness by deliberately weakening our statements with modifiers. “Just” is not the only culprit.We also say “a little,” or “only.”
Qualifying – We use “wiggle words” to hedge our bets and avoid conflict. Using a “wiggle word” allows us to back down if someone disagrees with us. Qualifiers such as “perhaps,” “probably,” “basically,” “hopefully,” or “sort of.” These words make us sound unsure of ourselves or tentative and make us feel safer than speaking without the wiggle room.
Apologizing – I don’t mean offering a genuine apology when you’ve hurt someone or made a big mistake. I’m talking about the extra, uncalled for apology. “I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now,” “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you were saying.” The phrase “excuse me” is a close cousin to “I’m sorry,” and when it’s not needed to make sense of the situation, it has the same effect of weakening our position and making us seem subordinate.
I invite you to listen carefully to your own speech and the speech of others over the next few days to see just how prevalent these speech patterns are. You’ll probably be surprised. Once you’re aware of these habits of speaking, put yourself on an elimination diet. Work to rid yourself of automatic minimizing, qualifying and apologizing.
You’ll sound and feel more powerful and be on your way to more success. You deserve it!
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