Language is one of the most powerful things in the world. It’s the way we communicate who we are and what we are thinking. It has the ability to persuade, empower, insult and challenge the world or individuals around us. There is a reason why politicians have a way with words and spend so much time and effort to create speeches that leave people feeling something. Words are weapons!
With that concept in mind, I recently have found myself analysing the phrases I use and the way I talk to family, friends and colleagues. In particular, I want to change the way I may be perceived by others around me. Not that I should have to consider how my words make others feel or see me. But like most people, I want to be the best version of myself (lovely but ferocious comes to mind). So I have decided to actively discontinue the following phrases out from my mind-library to ensure I am speaking like the person I want to be. For someone who admittingly is a bit too agreeable and less than direct, this will certainly be a challenge. But it is time to re-think how I communicate and I hope this inspired you to do so as well.
I GUESS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS…
Ah, I have used this many times when in meetings with much more experienced colleagues or when I am afraid that I may not be correct about something. It’s the start of a sentence that communicates that you are doubting yourself and that others should too. Both genders use this phrase but I certainly hear females (and more often younger females) using this as a consolation prize to actually backing themselves.
From my perspective…
I believe this…
Just be assertive and say what you are “trying to say”
TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH
Maybe you are beating around the bush about something with your friend or you have tried to be nice when delivering some bad news. For me, I use this when I am scared to say something that is not popular (people pleaser much!). But this communicates to the other person that everything you have said up until that point was not the truth. Like, you don’t like coconut ice cream but you said you “don’t feel like it now” when your friend persists to try it. Then you follow up with the “To tell you the truth, I have issues digesting dairy.” Just say you have issues digesting dairy! You get the point.
Be brave and say what you mean, your truth wins.
This is a big one for me. I say sorry in unnecessary situations! Sorry when trying to get pass people on the train, sorry for disagreeing, sorry to speak up in a group. For one, I am not always sorry in the sense that I regret and are remorseful so I should not be using that word. It makes sorry lose its power and makes it seem like I am doing something wrong. Sorry should be reserved for true apologies and wrong-doings. Not mundane life interjections to get someone’s attention.
Could I interject.. (then interject without waiting for a response
Another example of doubting what you are saying. A small number of things are “sort of” like a cloud that looks like a banana or a dress that kinda matches your shoes. But your opinion is not sort of, it is what it is. Sort of denotes uncertainty and be proud to be certain of yourself.
Could it be…
It is not
YEAH, WHY NOT! (WHEN I KNOW WHY NOT)
I need some courage to say no. Sometimes I say yes to things that I know I do not want to do whether it be going on a rollercoaster or doing double shots at the bar! Ok, sometimes you say why not because you need to be brave and talk yourself into something. But if you feel like staying in but you “Yeah, why not” to going out just to avoid an awkward refusal, it is not fair to complain about it afterward. Be content with saying no, people will respect you more for it.
No, thanks. (A smile may help if it is a friend. Or hey, just be blunt!)
YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW THIS BUT…
I made a mistake (I know, can you believe it) and recently said this line to a manager at work. I was just reminding her to send an additional attachment to an important email. In reflecting on the conversation later, I do not know why I felt uneasy about saying this. Maybe it was because I was shy to be authoritative or perhaps I just didn’t like how it sounded. It’s a strange way to go about asking someone to do something. You are guessing they already know something and then telling them that very thing again.
It is better to just say what you need to say instead of assuming what the other person knows or does not know.
This list will certainly grow but it is always good to check in with your words as they are a reflection of who you are. I am going to actively say what I need to say and watch how my words are defining me. If you find yourself saying phrases that do not sound like how you truly feel, perhaps it is time to discontinue- words are powerful after all.
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