Women are amazing – brilliant, creative, compassionate, kind. Yet often, when they step into positions of leadership, one of the hazards they face AND rarely notice are their speech habits – the ones that undermine them.
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 that – it a gift to the team, the project, the organization and direct reports appreciate it too! Also, there’s no need to take on a style that’s inauthentic. Women DO NOT have to become man-like to lead!
However, 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.
- “I’m just wondering…”
- “I just think…”
- “I just want to add…”
- Drop the “just.”
“Just” demeans what you have to say. “Just” shrinks your power. Get rid of the “justs.”
First, increase your awareness of the unhelpful speech patterns you currently use by simply listening to yourself. Recordings give unbiased, useful feedback. Or ask a trusted colleague to monitor your speech for a day.
Check whether you speak the same way at home as you do at work, in the boardroom, when you’re presenting. Its important to notice whether stress shifts you into certain speech habits.
Then set an intention to work on your unhelpful habits one-by-one. Set in by staing it in the present tense. An example might be, “I speak without diminishing my thoughts and ideas.”
Drop the “just” (and the “you knows” and the ubiquitous “like)”.
A sentence that goes, “I just want to report a 3% increase in sales,” is more powerful as, “We’ve experienced a 3% increase in sales.” Here the shift is not only in removing the “I” and the “just” which leaks power, but gathering up the energy of the collective.
Unless you are reporting on something you take full responsibility for, watch out for the “I just” statements.
Speech habits are mostly unconscious. As you begin to surface them, you’ll be able to make the small but important changes that help you fully inhabit your leadership without diminishing your authenticity.
Stop undermining your power, so you can make things happen…brilliant things…the “right” things that move your organization or business forward.