Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Diminishing ourselves through words

What's in a word (bad Shakespeare paraphrase, I know!)?

There have been a lot of social media posts lately on words/phrases we (usually women) use to hedge our comments and which weaken our voice. "Just" "In my opinion" "Excuse me if this has been said before" ... you know your own choice.

I find I say "I will try to...." Try is my word, creating both implied effort before the actual effort and casting doubt on the feasibility of the attempt, whether I mean to or not. Actually, if I say "I'll try..." in a really sad voice, I'm denigrating both the attempt and my ability: two birds with one stone! whoo hoo!

Whatever the word/phrase, why do we do it?

Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes the idea really does need a tug on the reality leash that might mean resources are scarce; timing is off; or my heart is not in it.

Most of the time, we are simply softening our answer in case we have any incorrect assumptions about what we are being asked. Perhaps the assumptions are our own self-doubt around skills. Or the appetite for the change. Or being seen as too forceful or assured.

This week, I'm trying something new. I'm trying to say "yes" more slowly. I'm asking for clarification of the assumptions, problem to be solved and why I'm the right person for the job. That way, when I state my intention to deliver something, I won't be trying.. I'll be doing...  I want that as part of my brand.

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