Why are you floundering?
You are brilliant, insightful and have incredible ideas. I know because I keep meeting you – a brilliant woman with big ideas to contribute, important organizations and businesses to build, and provocative questions to ask.
But when we “get to it” you tell me that you’re not commanding power. And when we break it down even further, it comes to this: you equivocate, apologize – even look away as you speak.
I know this pattern. I used to do this too. And then I learned these secrets to powerful, authentic communication.
You can learn to stop undermining yourself.
Here are 5 secrets that have worked for me and hundreds of my amazing women clients.
1. Drop the “just:” “I’m just wondering…”
“I just think…”
“I just want to add…”
Just demeans what you have to say. “Just” shrinks your power. Get rid of the “justs.”
2. Lose the “actually.” “I actually have a question…”
“I actually want to add something….”
“Actually” communicates a sense of surprise that you have something to say. Of course you have questions or value to add. There’s nothing surprising about it.
3. Don’t tell me that what you’re about to say is likely to be wrong. If you’re still starting sentences with, “I haven’t researched this but…”
“I’m just thinking off the top of my head but…” (notice the “just”?)
“You’ve clearly been working on this longer than I have, but…”
You aren’t standing behind what you’re saying for several reasons. Perhaps you’re not totally sure about what you’re going to say. Or you’re really afraid of being wrong so you’re buffering the sting of a critical response.
You’re indicating that you’re not committed to your words before anyone else has a chance to strongly disagree. This takes away the power of your voice! It’s time to change this habit and own what you say, even if you later change your mind.
4. Don’t tell us you’re “only going to take a minute” to say something. It sounds apologetic. How often in presentations do you hear women say, “I’m only going to take a minute to tell you about our service (product, company, etc.)”? Think how much more powerful is it to say, “I’d like to tell you about our company.” What you have to say is worthy of your audience’s time and attention. If you only want to take a moment, do it, but don’t use an apologetic phrase to belittle what you are saying.
5. Don’t make your sentences into questions. Women often raise their pitch at the end of a sentence making them sound like questions. Listen to your own language and that of other women and you’ll see the prevalence this speech habit. Speaking a statement like a question diminishes its power. Make statements sound like statements; drop into a lower tone at the end.
No need to become harsh or domineering.
Women’s unique way of communicating tends to be collaborative, consensus-building and inviting – much needed attributes in conscious leadership. There’s no need to change who you are or take on a style that’s inauthentic. But it is time to put away the self-diminishing ways of speaking that stem from being afraid of your own power or from believing what your harsh inner critic has to say. Its time to stop offering up your brilliance in tentative, self-deprecating ways.
So how to begin? Start moving into authentic communication by being mindful.
First, increasing your awareness of the unhelpful speech patterns you currently use by simply listening to yourself.
Then set an intention to work on your unhelpful habits one-by-one.
Pick one that stands out and spend a week or two changing it. Then go on to another.
(This works especially well when you ask a trusted friend or colleague for support. That support can look like a non-verbal signal to remind you to stay on track.)
For more support on stepping fully into your power while being authentically yourself, check out my brand new 21 day From Timid to Awesome: Living Into My Brilliance workshop.
You’ll learn and practice effective communication skills, learn strategic presentation strategies, and build your confidence, clarity and connection.
The world is waiting for your ideas. It’s time to start sharing them boldly, fully and loudly, without diminishment or apology.