Ladies, watch your language…

Words are powerful.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Maya Angelou

​I’m on a mission…to reduce the number of times I use the word ‘just’ in my communications. While I’m at it, I think I’ll have a go at ‘Would you mind, and ‘Is that ok?’ Perhaps the occasional ‘Does that make sense?’ as well.

How (over)using words like ‘just’ makes people feel, is that you’re handing over control. Saying “It’s ok, I don’t really mind how you react or whether you agree to what I’m suggesting. I don’t mind not getting what I want.”

Which is fine.

If that’s the case.

Often though it’s just not called for. The language to use when we want something to happen needs to be much direct. Blunt even. Still polite of course but with no room for doubt as to the outcome required, by when and why. Try it…it really works!

I’ve gone back over many drafted emails taking out occurrences of ‘Just ‘ and ‘Would you mind…’. Then I read the email to myself again and it sounds better. Not harsh, not uncaring but more definite, more like I’m entitled to be saying what I’m saying. Which of course I am. Like anyone else.

Women are said to be great communicators, good at negotiating and influencing rather than insisting. And of course a nurturing nature is useful, in work and business as well as with children, family, friends. Many will say that women are better networkers, confidants and advisors.

However, it also seems that we are not always great leaders, not making in onto the board nearly often enough, not being paid an equal salary to men.

Of course I’m being very generalist here and there will be women who just don’t suffer from this affliction and men who will say, hang on there, I do that too. My own experience though and that of the women friends I know and hugely admire, whom I’ve spoken to about this, is that us women need to check ourselves for what we say.

‘Just’ isn’t always a way of softening the request. Nike for instance. Certainly no doubt that is a directive rather than an request. What are we waiting for… ‘JUST’ get on with it….

Too often my sentences read more like this – ‘Just wondering if…’, ‘Could you just…’. When what I might really mean is ‘Are you going to do that thing. The one you said you would do… Anytime soon. Because actually it’s making my life difficult/holding me up etc…’ Thanks!

Been there?

The trouble is if you use language which suggests something isn’t important, guess what? People will treat it as if it’s not important. If you do it often enough, they will treat you as if you’re not important.

It’s not them, it’s you.

So when your next draft an email with a request which is just that, make sure it sounds like you mean it. Make it easy for your reader to know what you really need. Rather than a self deprecating, it’s not-very-important, attempt at being ‘polite’.

Of course, if you’ve your own views on this, please do let me know. I’ll be glad to hear.

If you also suffer from an unchecked need to be ingratiating, check this Chrome app out…Just Not Sorry which will do the work for you!

03 Mar 2022
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