Recall the last time you hesitated in voicing your opinion or stayed quiet during a meeting even when you had strong points to put forth. Chances are that it happened on numerous occasions, especially if you are a woman. From a young age, we women are told to talk in lower voices and not to interrupt while elders are talking. These societal “etiquettes” enforced at a young age may cause a lack of confidence in adulthood, and that’s one of the reasons why women often tend to use weak language at work. Communicating effectively at the workplace is extremely important. But sometimes in order to be polite, we mellow down our confidence and authority, sabotaging the credibility of our work.
Are you using weak language at work?
A survey conducted by Qua revealed an interesting fact that how women are unknowingly using weak language at work. The first step should be recognizing when we are using weak language and undermining our work, our intelligence, our confidence and our power. You cannot find a solution until you are aware of the problem. Take a note of how often you feel the need to be less authoritative and ask yourself if you really need to be this self- effacing. Become aware and put an end to the behaviour.
Accepting your fault and apologizing is necessary sometimes. But saying sorry at the starting of each sentence is the real problem, and most of us struggle with this. It not only shows a lack of confidence but we might also appear as an indecisive person. Apart from this, injecting the word sorry everywhere makes the real apology meaningless. According to the survey conducted by Qua in which 80 women participated, 75% of women found themselves over-apologising. If you find yourself apologizing excessively, it’s time for you to sit back and analyze the situation. Be unapologetic and rephrase your sentences, for example, instead of saying "I'm sorry for being late", say “Thank you for waiting”. These little tweaks in routine conversations will help you handle situations with assertiveness.
Stop Questioning your work and ideas
Do you often find yourself questioning your own ideas? If yes, then unknowingly you are also trapped in the web of weak language. Adding a question after presenting your work will put you in a state of uncertainty and doubt. You might also appear to have a lack of confidence in your own work. Instead of using an uncertain question like “If this makes sense?”, ask for feedback with boldness. This will pave a path for discussion without undermining your pitch. It’s high time that you stop asking for reassurance and have confidence in your work.
Choose your words wisely
Qua’s survey showed that 85% of the women use undermining words. Using phrases and words like ‘just’, ‘only’, ‘I feel like’ and ‘I am no expert’, may appear harmless but in reality, they are damaging your credibility. You might feel, we are exaggerating the situation but using these phrases at the workplace is a sign of weak language. When you start your sentence with ‘I am no expert’, you unknowingly made your pitch inadequate. Whatever comes after it will be questioned by your audience. Replace these phrases with dominant ones like ‘I am confident that’, to avoid putting yourself in challenging positions.
Learn how to say NO
It’s always good to be open to challenges and new opportunities, but agreeing to everything might put you in undesirable situations. 61 out of 80 women found it difficult to say ‘no’, according to the poll by Qua. It is incredibly important to prioritize your own work before saying yes to help others. Build the courage to say ‘no’ and do not feel guilty for prioritizing your own work over others. This doesn’t mean that you should replace ‘yes’ with ‘no’ every time, instead use the word ‘maybe’. Ensure that you are on your schedule before committing to help others.
It’s important for you to see the ‘red flags’ of the weak language in the workplace. Do not forget communication and confidence is the key.
Be fearless, be assertive, be unapologetic, be you!