I think that there is, however, a universal language of power that women need to embrace to advance their careers and be successful in any business. We, as women, tend to “skirt” around powerful language.
Case in point, I was at a training class a couple of weeks ago and the presenter, who was exceedingly qualified, stood up to start her presentation with what I think is close to an apology. She said…”well, I just have some handouts here”. OK. Most people probably didn’t even tune into this, but since this is my area of expertise, I could not help but notice. “Just have some handouts”? Why did she feel the need to apologize for her work? It’s almost as if she thought she was putting us out in some way by giving us handouts.
But we all do this all the time. We apologize more than necessary. We use words that diminish or weaken our statements or points of view.
In her book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Lois Frankel dedicates a chapter, “How You Sound”, to this topic. Lois writes specifically about using minimizing words such as “just”.
Minimizing Words are those that diminish the importance or size of an achievement.
Lois emphasizes the point that if we want to be taken seriously, we need to drop these minimizers.
Here’s my point: You can do your homework and create an impactful message and an action plan on how best to increase your credibility and visibility in your workplace, but if you continue to use language that weakens your position, you won’t get the results you desire.
Be conscious of the words you choose. Listen carefully to other women at work and be mindful if they are guilty of the same self-sabotaging behavior. Tactfully let them know the affect it has on their overall message and professional image.
Once you increase your own sensitivity to this, you will be able to change your behavior, delete the minimizers, and use more powerful language to strengthen your message instead of weaken it.
Listen to my interview with Susan Colantuono on Head over Heels Radio on Tuesday, August 3rd . She discusses how to use the language of power and other skills that women need to know in order to advance their careers.
Also, you can hear Lois Frankel discuss this as well on Head over Heels archived show, November 10, 2009.