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International Women’s Day: Are Your Words Undermining Your Value?

Attractive young business woman

Did you know that March 8 is International Women’s Day? In support of this campaign, we wanted to talk about some communication issues that impact women and can limit them from reaching their professional potential. This past year I had the opportunity to be a part of a panel at the inaugural Intercollegiate Women Leadership Development Conference. As a panel member, I collaborated with a range of other women professionals and spoke with female graduate students on how to “shatter the glass ceiling” as they launch their careers. Here are just a few of the ways you can strengthen your communication skills to convey confidence and professionalism and climb the corporate ladder.

Don’t Over-apologize: It’s great to apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but many women have a tendency to over-apologize, inserting “I’m sorry” into situations in which it isn’t warranted. For example, if you’re stopping in to ask a colleague a question, saying, “I’m sorry, I just wanted to ask you a question,” instead of “Can I ask you a question?” or “Could I have a moment of your time?” Over-apologizing can deal a significant blow to your perceived confidence and leadership abilities. Try to take note of how often you say “I’m sorry” on a daily basis, and judge whether it’s really warranted.

Avoid Upspeak: Have you ever spoken with someone who sounds like they’re asking a question, even with they’re making a statement? This is called upspeak, the habit of continually raising your tone at the end of a sentence. Not only can upspeak be distracting, in a professional situation, it can make you sound as though you lack confidence and are unsure of what you’re saying. Take care to monitor your tone when you speak to sound professional and authoritative.

Watch Your Vocabulary: Vocabulary choice can also play a significant role in how others perceive you. Recently, a former Google executive published an article about a trend she noticed, particularly among her female colleagues: the word “just” crept into their speech constantly. As the author notes, “just” rarely adds any meaningful content to your message. Rather, it reduces the importance of your message and makes it sound like an apology. For example, “I’m just following up on our discussion,” or “I just wanted to ask you,” sound much less direct and professional than the same phrases minus the word “just.”

Do you want to take your communication to the next level? Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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