How we speak is something we often take for granted, and something we tend to think of as fixed (that´s how I speak) and inconsequential. We pay little attention to the words we choose and they could be holding us back, dis-empowering us and leading to less than ideal results.
Women, in particular, are more likely to engage in ways of speaking that are dis-empowering and very often we don´t even realize it, we make ourselves small with our speech so as not to offend or out-shine others. We are taught from a young age that it is better to be polite than honest, to the detriment of our own well-being. We apologise for our existence in a way that suggests we should be grateful for being allowed to occupy space. Enough! It´s time to take back our power and our right to not only exist but to be unapologetically us no matter whom that upsets or threatens or displeases.
This week I invite you to pay close attention to how you speak, the words you choose and to where in your speech patterns you are making yourself small. Identifying and changing even one of these habits can have a powerful effect. Start by doing one thing differently this week, make one new choice-the world won´t stop spinning on its axis and you will feel an internal shift that is powerful.
Sorry. A beautiful, significant word when used in the right context- as a sincere apology for a wrongdoing that has been committed or in sympathy with someone else´s misfortune, but how often do you use the word sorry in your everyday speech? When no wrongdoing has been committed? While the word itself has become a socially accepted niceity there is no denying the effect it has in diminishing the user when used inappropriately. Now I´m not advocating turning into an inconsiderate jerk but I am suggesting you examine your usage of the word to determine it´s effectiveness and appropriacy in a given situation. Consider experimenting with other ways of expressing yourself without using that word-unless it is a sincere apology.
Here are some examples of sorries that need to be ditched right away
Sorry + Complaint
If you are paying for goods or services and you are not getting what you paid for you are not the one who needs to apologise. You don´t have to be rude, but omitting the sorry gives your complaint more weight.
Sorry + Opinion
You do not need to apologise for having a different view point. The next time you catch yourself saying sorry before giving your opinion cut it out, go straight to the I disagree and your opinion, you have a right to it.
Sorry + Excuse
You´ve been invited to do something or go somewhere and there are a myriad of reasons why it´s not going to happen- you don´t want to, you have other plans, you would rather chew off your own foot than attend another kids birthday party, whatever. You do not need to apologise for declining an invitation, again you have the right to choose how to spend your time and you say pass without having to sound (and by default feel) like you're doing something wrong. Next time try "Thank you for the invite, maybe next time" No apology, no excuse.
Just - just nothing!
When we use just to introduce our statements or requests we are once again minimising the impact of those statements and indirectly apologising for our existence. Have you ever started a sentence with "I was just wondering....." or an email with "I am just writing to ....." ? I know I have, and I also know that this is something you rarely see or hear a man saying. Men tend not to have the same need to soften what they want to say because they didn´t grow up with the same messages we grew up with. But that does not mean we cannot change this. If the softening just is part of your habitual vocabulary ditch it and see what happens, the world can handle you in all your glory.
I can´t, I have to, I must
If you have even a passing interest in personal development, and your´re reading a coaches blog so I assume you do, you will have read that should is a word that we need to eliminate from our vocabulary, I would go one step further and add I have to, I can´t and I must. I am not denying we all have commitments but try swapping these three out with I am, I decided to, I choose to or even right now my priority is and see how much more empowered you feel. By making this small shift you are owning your ability to choose in any given situation. Sometimes when our options aren´t great it feels like we don´t have a choice, by removing the have tos and musts we recover our power.
Look at the difference between the two possible answers below, read them out loud, unless you´re in a public place and reading out loud would put your sanity in question.
"Fancy a drink Friday evening after work?"
" I´d love to but I cant, I have to look after my mother this weekend -it´s my turn and there is no one else to do it"
"I´m looking after my mother this weekend, she´s elderly and when it´s my turn I like to be fresh and give her my full attention. Another time? "
Both convey the same meaning, did you notice any difference when you read them out loud? When we operate from a position of choice rather than obligation it feels lighter, more powerful. Where can you turn a I have to into a I choose to?
Pay attention to your words this week. See which choices make you feel lighter and freer and which one´s feel heavy and full of obligation. Make one change, experiment, see how it feels.
Share your experiences or voice your opinions in the comments.