If you really listen to other women in conversation you’ll probably notice how polite, kind and ‘nice’ they are to each other.
This is certainly not a bad thing, but in the workplace is it stopping their ideas from being heard and acted on?
Most women feel a pressure to conform to the feminine stereotype of being flexible, conciliatory and ‘nice’. This pressure can be subconscious and is usually as a result of conditioning from family, school and society.
As a result, you’ll notice a number of little differences between male and females speech patterns. These differences are women’s way of saying something, whilst making sure the other person is okay with it.
This isn’t a problem unless the woman is trying to make an important point or convey a strong message because then they can make you sound tentative or lacking confidence.
3 of the top undermining speech habits you may hear women use are:
‘Just’ – I used to put this into a lot of my emails “I just wanted to ask you….” or “I just wondered if….”. I thought it would soften a stronger message or be an apology for bothering them. But really it was me justifying what I had to say and resulted in a weaker message and an impression that I lacked confidence. So I suggest you do as I did and leave it off.
Disclaimers such as ‘just off the top of my head…’ or ‘I could be wrong but…’ explain to others we haven’t fully formed an idea but instead diminish both you and your ideas. Use ‘here are some of my thoughts…’ instead, which is more direct and positive
‘Does that make sense?’ – this is used to check that the other person has understood what we said. However, it suggests that you feel you haven’t expressed it well. Instead, try using ‘Do you have any questions or thoughts?’
You might feel that without these and other speech softeners people are going to think you’re too direct and not empathetic.
However, if you convey warmth in your body language and voice (which make up 93% of a messages communication) you can come across as confident as well as good-natured and trustworthy
If you’d like to find out more about the undermining speech habits we use and how to communicate powerfully, then book a chat with me at www.speakwithjo.com