Let’s face it, what we say is often not what we mean. And our mouths are frequently on autopilot with words that roll off our tongue habitually. I’m guilty of it and I’ve noticed I’m not alone. However, three words in particular steal our power – especially for women.
#1 – Sorry
Unless you’ve absent-mindedly cut off a chunk of your friend’s hair instead of a shirt tag (or something else equally deserving of an apology), stop saying you’re sorry for things that are not your fault. It’s the equivalent of claiming responsibility for the weather.
Yet, somehow, it has become the first word intro to most sentences without even realizing it. I invite you to count how many times a day you say “sorry” and then notice how many of those instances you truly were to blame.
If you only say sorry when you’re at fault, skip to #2 below. If not, here’s a suggestion:
Take a moment to pause between absorbing information and reacting. Consciously refrain from speaking until you’ve assessed the facts of the situation so that you can formulate what you really mean. (This happens quicker than you realize and others won’t even notice.)
Instead of: Try:
“Sorry, I should have…” “In an all knowing world, we might have…”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize…” “Looks like…”
“Sorry, I’m allergic…” “I’m allergic.”
“Sorry, I don’t know…” “Great question. Let’s look it up.”
“Sorry, I couldn’t hear you.” “Can you please repeat yourself?”
#2 – Just
Use of the word “just” diminishes whatever you’re trying to say or accomplish. It not only reduces the effectiveness of your action, but it also makes you subservient to who ever you’re communicating with.
Nothing about what you’re doing or who you are is just anything.
You are amazing, brilliant, talented and knowledgeable. Own your power; don’t give it away.
Instead of: Try:
“Just checking in on…” “What is the status of this project?”
“I’m just working on…” “I am in the middle of something right now, and will discuss that with you when I’m finished.”
“I just wanted to see if…” “Are you (is this) ready?”
“I just thought…” Directly stating or asking
#3 – Like (or Um)
Unless you’re using a simile, “like” has commonly become a substitution for a pause in thinking and formulating sentences. Aside from professional speakers and press-trained corporate executives, who have trained themselves out of this habit, most people use “like” or “um” as frequently as blinking.
If you want people to take what you’re saying more seriously, speak as if it’s your job. When you get the urge to say “like” or “um,” keep your lips sealed and simply breathe while your brain catches up.
Pauses are natural. It’s why commas, ellipses, semi-colons and periods were created. They’re not only for the written word; use them when you speak as well.
Those you’re communicating with don’t need a word-filler. They’ll understand you better if you give their brains a chance to catch up, too. Plus, it makes whatever you’re saying more impactful.
Pauses are good for all involved. The effect will be profound on the listener’s opinion of your presence. Fair or not, presence builds confidence in abilities. And confidence builds empires.
Try eliminating these three words from your vocabulary, and then come back and share your success stories in the comments below!