As women, many of us are subconsciously holding ourselves back from success because of the language we use— with ourselves, and with others. Below are 3 shifts we can consciously make in our speech to be empowered and more able to command anything we desire.
Do you feel misalignment between your worth and your reality?
Do you have a pile of empowerment books next to your bed, but can’t seem to “own your voice” in front of your boss, at an important meeting, or at a cocktail party?
It could be because you’re not valuing your words.
The words that come out of your mouth have a great deal of power over the way that others perceive you – and how you perceive yourself.
Words can empower OR disempower you.
They can build you up, providing energy and inspiring others. Or they can drag you down, draining your energy and making you seem insecure and untrustworthy.
We develop our speech patterns so early on that a lot of times we don’t even realize how our words are portraying us. We use certain phrases because we’ve always used them, not even thinking about how they reflect on us and shape people’s perceptions.
As women, many of us have been traditionally taught to ask permission, to soften our delivery so we aren’t considered “difficult” or worse…
Many of us have adapted phrases such as “I’m sorry”, “I’ll try”, “I guess” because we’ve been subdued into thinking that assertiveness is not lady-like.
Sheryl Sandberg, the notorious author of Lean In and Facebook COO, valiantly discusses how women’s internal speech affects her professional future.
In Lean In, she wrote:
“Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that- and I’ll learn by doing it.”
Sheryl Sandberg – Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders
She also discusses the effect that negative feedback has on women:
“And in situations where a man and a woman each receive negative feedback, the woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem drop to a much greater degree. The internalization of failure and the insecurity it breeds hurt future performance, so this pattern has serious long-term consequences.”
So, what can we do to break this pattern?
We must portray ourselves as we want to envision ourselves: confident, successful and joyful.
And this starts with the words we choose to use.
1. Word Swaps
Consciously making an effort to choose words that empower your speech is a simple technique to appear (and feel!) more assertive.
Swapping I guess for I know, saying sorry only when necessary and eliminating I’ll try from your vocabulary will have an immediate effect on your confidence and how others perceive you.
2. Your Tone
Even if your word choices are empowering and strong, the tone of your voice can have a huge effect on how you are perceived. Volume, body language, speech rhythm, confidence in what you’re saying and even your breath all contribute to your tone. Practice your delivery in front of a mirror and record yourself. When you play your recording back, do you hear a strong, confident woman full of conviction, or can you barely hear yourself? On the flip side, do you sound full of yourself or even condescending? Aim for a happy medium in volume and tone; warm but trustworthy, reassuring and persuasive at the same time.
3. Emmm, ummm
These fillers are the equivalent of fidgeting or slouching while you speak. And these aren’t the only ones, like and you know are possibly even worse. Most of us are so accustomed to using them to give us some time to think that we don’t even realize how heavily we rely on them, but the people listening to us do. Eliminate these fillers from your vocabulary and you’ll help your speech clarity and conviction.
Making a conscious effort to notice your word choices gives more power to your speech.
Deliberately choosing powerful words that make you feel capable and demonstrate your assertiveness, will make an enormous difference in how you feel about yourself – and how others perceive you.
Give it a try!