Our minds are constantly running with “what if'' phrases:
“What if I don’t get accepted?” “What if they think I’m weird?” “What if I fail?” Along with constant thinking, we also have constant self-doubt: “That person wrote a book, I could never do that,” or, “I do not have the skills for that.”
Women in general undermine themselves more than men. In a study from the Institute of Leadership and Management in 2011, British managers were surveyed about how confident they felt in their profession. Half of the people that respondents reported self-doubt about their careers. Why is this?
In an interview with Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, she mentioned that women often are worried about people liking them. Women are more relationship oriented and we care what others think according to the Goop interview. So what needs to happen so women stop undermining themselves? One way is to catch yourself when it comes to common phrases or words that diminish what you’re saying. By doing so, it will make you sound more direct, confident, and impact your success in a positive way.
Here are some common words that diminish what you’re saying according to Tara Mohr:
1. The word “just”
I find myself using this word a lot: “I just was checking to see if you are okay,” or “I just need help on this one problem.” The word just makes you sound unsure and not direct to the person you’re talking to. The word “just” also makes you sound apologetic because you think you might be bothering the person you’re talking to.
By removing the word “just” from your sentences, you will sound straightforward and like you know what you are asking for. Having a sentence go from “I just was checking to see if you are okay” to “I am checking to see how you are,” have different tones with the same intention. Removing the word “just” from your vocabulary will increase your chances of sounding confident and can help you in the long run with jobs or during conferences.
2. Saying “sorry” when asking a question
I say, “Sorry, but I have a question,” or “sorry to bother you,” however, you do not need to apologize for having a question or talking to someone. Some women do over apologize, but there is no need to when starting a conversation.
If you remove the word “sorry” from the beginning of your sentence, you will sound more assertive. This will remove any doubt or worry before you pose your question, which will help you in the long run as well as people will look at you as someone who is confident.
3. Saying “if that makes sense”
Anytime I am unsure of myself or nervous to say something, I always end the sentence with “I don’t know if that made sense.” This phrasing undermines what I am saying and is diminishing my point because of the fear of it sounding invalid. For instance, if I express how I felt hurt by someone’s actions, I’ll explain the scenario that made me upset, but end it with “if that made sense.” In the worry that if what I said did not make sense, it will be okay for the person to reject what I have to say.
If you do this as well, it’s time to try to not add that phrase in your sentence and be more direct. Your point or sentence is valid, and whatever you said most likely makes sense. If you start removing this phrase now, it will make you sound like you know what you’re talking about when it comes to presentations or job interviews as well.
As women, we tend to undermine ourselves, how we feel, and what we have to say when talking with others. But by doing so, it can affect our image and how confident we appear to others. Taking out little words in our vocabulary, believe it or not, will actually help us appear more confident, and confidence is key when it comes to success!