It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. The language you use could be diminishing your credibility as a leader.
Leaders communicate a lot of things to a lot of people,, on a regular basis. But what are they really saying when they speak? Many don’t realize just how much language impacts perception and effectiveness of a message. Some language restricts the ability to truly connect with the listener or make the point that you are really trying to make. In fact, some language may project you as weary when you need to be seen as strong.
Women, in particular, should be cognizant of the words they use. Being modest, accommodating, and passive is the way women were taught for years, starting in their toddler years. We continue to be judged by these social norms as we grow into adult professionals. We are still expected to "tone it down", "smile more", "act like a lady", and use a more submissive tone. The very things that are expected of women by social default or the same things that deem women as weak and unable to lead with authority and get results like a man. This type of conditioning still shows up for many women in the way we communicate as leaders.
To ensure you are using power language in your leadership conversations, be sure to eliminate these 5 phrases from your messages:
1. “I think”. When you are speaking from the role of a leader, it is important that you are believable. This builds trust. You need to start believing and stop thinking. You sound more convincing when you say “I believe” rather than “I think”. When you say “I think”, you sound unsure of yourself.
-“I think this new software will help us streamline our processes and increase productivity.”
-“I believe this new software will help us streamline our processes and increase productivity.”
2. “I guess”. This phrase is sure to communicate that you are not confident in what you are about to say. The best thing to do is eliminate it altogether and just state what would have been said right after that.
-“I guess we’re going to adjust our marketing strategy to increase our visibility in
the 24-54-year old professional woman market.
-“We will adjust our marketing strategy to increase visibility in the 24-54-year old professional woman market.
3. “In my opinion”. When you are conducting business, or in a position to influence a decision or secure support, your opinion is not what your audience wants to hear. They want to hear facts. Opinions have no place in high-stakes meetings, life-changing conversations, or when someone is looking to you for a solution. Eliminate that phrase. Replace with phrases like, “according to the budget report”, or “statistics show”. These phrases are letting your listeners know right away what your source of information is and that it is not just an opinion that has not merit.
-“In my opinion, we will fall short of our revenue projections for 2nd quarter by 15%.”
-“According to the current budget report, we will fall short of our revenue projections for 2nd quarter by 15%.
4. “Could you/would you”. As a leader, not only is it necessary to inspire, empower and influence, you will also need to give direction and provide guidance. When you are delegating and instructing your team or whomever, it needs to be understood when a directive is being given and there are no options. When you use the phrase “could you” or “would you”, you are giving the receiver an option to do or not to do what you want them to do. You are also asking a question rather than making a precise statement.
-“Would you please email me a project update by 2:00 pm today?”
-“Please email me a project update by 2:00 pm today.
5. “I”.- This is a big one. The word “I” is used excessively. By default, when we are the speaker, we use the word “I”. It makes sense in many conversations, especially if the conversation is about you, specifically. However, there are just as many more times when “I” should not be included in your statements. When you use the word “I”, you are taking ownership of whatever you are discussing, even though you may not have anything to do with it, or not responsible for it. I think, I heard, I found out, all place emphasis on you rather than the real subject.
-“I have a problem with my team meeting deadlines.”
-“My team has a problem meeting deadlines.”
We all use phrases that could potentially water down the message we are delivering. None of us are perfect and may slip up here and there by using passive rather than active language. Being conscious of the words we choose and the way we speak is always a work in progress. The more we pay attention to what we say and the more deliberate we are about the language we use the better we will become at speaking influentially and confidently as a leader. It will soon be like second nature.
There is so much more that can be said about power language and how it boosts your credibility and how it helps you to communicate more confidently. Hopefully, the examples provided gave you a general revelation of how the words we use make a difference when we are speaking.
In order to act like a leader, you must speak like a leader.
Jackie Robinson is founder of SheBoss Unlimited, a veteran success-strategist/coach, consultant author, and speaker. Contact her today today for a consultation.
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Blog Content is Written, and/or Contributed By Various Authors and From Various Sources