Six Things You Should Never Say if You Want to be Taken Seriously
I just feel like this is important. Just my two cents!
See what I did there? Included three of the main things we all say (myself included) on a regular basis that undermine all efforts to appear pulled-together, professional, and confident. There’s a semi-jokey article making the rounds about all the things women in leadership roles say in the workplace that “threaten their male counterparts.” What it really is, is a parody of the way many women speak at work and in email, but when I first read it, I had a feeling not dissimilar to the first time I watched Zoolander. Should I laugh? Should I be horrified? Should I stay home and analyze everything I’ve ever said and done, because AM I THAT PERSON?!
I am, sometimes, and it is not ideal. Here, I’ve made a list of all the things that I’ve said, read, and written that undermine my (and your) authority.
“I feel like...”
This drives me the most crazy. Nine times out of 10, the thing you think is a feeling is indeed a thought, which it is okay to have! Try consciously replacing “I feel like” with “I think” and observe how much more powerful you sound.
“My two cents…”
Again, it’s okay to have thoughts and opinions! More often than not, when you’re giving said thoughts and opinions it’s because someone has asked for them and wants them. No need to semi-excuse yourself for having them—just allow yourself to be brilliant!
I can’t tell you how many times every day I start an email with “I just wanted to check in…” or “Just following up on….” No. I need to know something! I’m effectively annihilating “I just” from my vocabulary, except in the instance of “I just ate an entire meatball sub, and now I really need a nap.”
“I was wondering…”
See “I just.” More often than not, you weren’t wondering; you were trying to get something done and you needed something from someone else in order to accomplish that thing. “Wondering” where it is isn’t nearly as effective as asking: “Where is it?” In the words of my amazing, powerful mother: “Be brief, be brilliant, be gone.” When you need something, ask for it concisely and forcefully, and you’ll only need to ask once.
“Sorry for the delay!”
This is a two-pronged beast. On the one hand, it’s not good to make people wait for things from you. On the other, if it’s just a little bit late, or you let an email go just a little too long without responding, saying “sorry for the delay” only calls attention to the delay. Try to get back to people on time, but when you can’t, it’s (usually) not the end of the world.
“Would you mind...?”
Again, this is a roundabout way of asking for something that you probably urgently need done. Instead of asking someone if they’d mind doing something for you (that’s realistically probably part of their job), say: I need you to do this thing. Keep in mind, a “please” never hurts.