“One has to be both smart and confident in order to have a successful career.”
These are wise words every woman should internalize, says Sallie Krawcheck, CEO, and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a recently launched innovative digital investment platform for women. “People are drawn to confidence; people are drawn to over-confidence. The spell of over-confidence is so great that we fall under its spell, according to an article in New York magazine, even after the person has demonstrated that their confidence in themselves is ill-placed,” Krawcheck tells Fortune.
Confidence is something we admire in others and always want more of for ourselves. And while some people may just be born confident, it’s a trait that the rest of us have to work for and daily confidence habits are key to becoming more confident. As all the top performers in the working world will tell you, confidence is something that extends from your nonverbal verbal cues. So, where better to start building your confidence than in the words you use. Especially in the professional world, your words have the power to make you a badass or a pushover. As far as we’re concerned what you say should always exude badass confidence. So, whether you are an entrepreneur, starting a new job, freelancer, or a seasoned professional, a good place to start on this confidence revolution is via verbal communication.
Before we move into what to say, let’s start with what not to say. Do not (and we mean almost never) say. “I’m sorry.” It’s a really bad habit that women tend to internalize more than men. Maybe you’ve said “I’m sorry” when asking your boss for an extension, or you say it every time you pass by someone in the break room, but this habit needs to stop now. When you apologize for no reason, people will start to see you as a pushover, and that, you are not.
Now that you know what to scrap, keep reading for five phrases that will make you more professional, knowledgeable and confident.
1. Use “I Won’t” Instead of “I Can’t”
Before you think this is too harsh of a phrase and thereby write it off, hear me out for a minute. The reason this phrase is one that will make you sound more confidence is it is both assertive and active, rather than passive and indecisive. An example of an alternative phrase that is overused by women is “I can’t”, which is a fear-based way of essentially saying the same thing.
Even if your intention isn’t to portray your inability in doing something, using “I can’t” portrays insecurity surrounding your decision. It is a shaky way of delivering a particular message to others and will naturally signify a low degree of self-confidence. Using “I won’t” instead is a much stronger way of saying that you won’t do the task. Human Behavior specialist, Melody Wilding tells Forbes, “Increase ownership over what you say by replacing “I can’t” with “I won’t.” This is a subtle yet powerful way to demonstrate agency, independence, and control – especially in work environments where you may feel ordered around.” Never be afraid of standing your ground, ladies
2. Use “I Believe” Instead of “What If I Tried”
In order to speak with confidence at work, it is vital that the words and phrases you use are synonymous with conviction and assuredness. Like the previous phrase on our list, “I believe” spells out pure, unadulterated confidence. There is nothing fear-based or little about believing in something, with positivity emanating from the phrase itself. If you already make use of this phrase, then you are golden, but many of us working gals oftentimes substitute alternates in order to state our ideas.
Examples include “What if we tried…?” and “Perhaps we can try this…” Both of these phrases carry an element of doubt within them and thereby invite the recipients to question the statements and possibly reject or criticize them. When a question mark is in your actual articulation, don’t be surprised if it isn’t taken seriously. It is so much smarter to be straightforward when trying to get your point across, being sure to take the no-shame approach. “Stating an idea as a question when it’s not is equal to sacrificing ownership over the idea. It’s also a way of “polling,” which subconsciously speaks to the fact that you don’t think your own ideas are valuable, valid, or worthwhile unless everyone thinks so, ” Wilding tells Forbes. If you are searching for other equally bold phrases outside of “I believe”, give “I’m convinced”, “I expect”, and “I am sure” a try. Are you all ready to say it as you mean it?
3. Use “Definitely” Instead of “I Guess”
Everyone respects a professional woman that is sure of herself. The word “definitely” is truly your best friend if you aim to emanate confidence at work, as it is a word that is anything but hesitant. Executive coach and author Joel Garfinkle agrees with me on this one, telling Business Insider.
“If you want to project confidence, use the word “definitely.” This way the person you’re communicating with knows you are 100% certain in your statement.” A few examples of weaker words or phrases you may want to avoid include “kind of”, “sort of”, “I suppose”, “usually”, and “I guess”, among countless others. With tact and kindness held high, there is really no limit to using definitive speech. If the word “definitely” isn’t your jam, find your own individual substitute.
4. Use “I Look Forward to Hearing Your Thoughts” Instead of “Am I Making Sense”
“Am I making sense” is one of the weakest phrases s in a professional context. It tells the listener you’re not certain what you’re saying is true and, in fact, you are confused yourself. If you want to project confidence, use the phrase “I look forward to hearing your thoughts or questions.” This way the person you’re communicating with knows you care if they understand the statement.
5. Use I Appreciate Instead of “I Was Just Doing My Job”
Remove the crutch phrase, “I appreciate it,” from your vocabulary right now. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your own hard work. Polite professionals don’t win at work, confident professionals win, so next time you catch yourself falling into the trap of using this weak phrase, say, “I appreciate it” or “thank you” instead. When you’re confident in your job work and take ownership of work, it will present you as a strong, professional and confident person.
Pssst. Have you heard of Ellevest? Their digital service uses an algorithm specifically designed for women’s incomes and life cycles to figure out the best investing strategy for you. Learn more here.
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