Words have power: they can harm and wound; they can uplift and inspire. Most of us give little thought to the words we use in our daily life. Yet, people make assumptions about us both consciously and unconsciously based upon our choice of words. Setting aside the vocabulary of hate, most words can be described as benign or neutral. Nevertheless, I invite you, specifically the women and girls reading this post, to be very careful when you use these words:
SORRY – There are many times when apologizing is appropriate and required: a thoughtless comment spoken in haste; stepping on someone’s foot; breaking someone’s family heirloom and many more circumstances. And yet, women often apologize when someone bumps into them. How often have you hear a woman, perhaps it’s you, apologize when asking for service in a restaurant or store? In business do you begin a prospecting phone call by apologizing for calling “at a bad time?” Apologies have a time and a place. A simple “I’m sorry,” without qualification, can be as powerful as “I love you.” Apologizing reflexively and unnecessarily broadcasts insecurity and doubt and minimizes your message. A very savvy business coach I know uses a Sorry Jar instead of a Swear Jar. Whenever one of her clients apologizes unnecessarily she is fined $5. Her clients unlearn this habit pretty quickly. How much will it cost you?
JUST – A perfectly good word, “I caught the train just in time,” “the movie times were just updated.” Now, how do these sentences sound, “I’m just a stay-at- home Mom,” “I just have a home based business?” Now just has become the minimizer, the derogatory accent you have added to your words and the image they convey. If you don’t value your actions, your proposal, your idea, why should anyone else? Don’t be a minimizer, believe in yourself and make sure your words reflect that belief.
LITTLE – A wonderfully used word as in “I’d like a little more coffee, please,” “the right shoe is a little too loose,” Now read this sentence: “I’ve created a little flyer for my workshop.” Really? Is it smaller than 81/2 by 11? “My daughter graduated and I hosted a little party with all her favorite home-cooked foods. We had about 75 people.” Really? You shopped, cleaned and cooked for 75 people and that was a little party? I’ve made my point. Women especially are trained from a very early age to be modest and humble and to avoid bragging. There are many reasons a man gets promoted over a woman. Humility is rarely one of them. Men routinely share their successes and accomplishments and they most definitely do not describe them as little. When you do share your success are you sabotaging the accomplishment by making it appear small and non-threatening? Changing any unconscious habit starts with awareness. Ask a friend to help you out. Maybe change the way you use these words one at a time. With a little effort you won’t just be accomplished, you will be unapologetically successful without any reason to be sorry.
Viviane Kaneff, President Woman Within Eastern USA