Power language – Part 1

Posted on Posted in Business Etiquette Workshop

By Rose Murdock – One of the surest ways to cultivate self-confidence is to learn how to speak with more self-assurance. We women pepper our language with phrases that alert our listeners to our insecurities, and often we are not even aware that we do so.  Once we get rid of these little habits we will be taken more seriously.  Here are our tips for representing yourself better in public.

Phrases that show insecurity and poor self-image

“Can I ask you a question?” Asking for permission negatively affects your professional image and minimises what you are saying.

“Thanks for listening to me.” Just “thanks” is enough.

“To be honest/I’ll be honest with you.” Does this mean that the rest of the time you’re dishonest?

“I was just wondering if…” This passivity doesn’t serve you. Just ask the question you want to ask.

“I think…” Does this means you don’t know? “I believe,” by contrast, shows conviction and knowledge.

Avoid these danger phrases when talking to someone

“You should…” Instead say,  “Have you considered…”

“What’s wrong with you?” Rather use, “Is something troubling you?”

“We need to talk,” which is  confrontational. Rather use, “I need your help/I could do with your help”.

Magic phrases

Instead of saying “No” or “Yes, but”, which is often a de facto “No”, here are some options that avoid a negative response and conflict.

That’s interesting…

Why do you say/think that?

Why do you ask me that?

Don’t talk too much

If you’re asked a question simply answer it without providing a lot of detail and explanation.

Keep it simple. Drop the big words, the jargon and the acronyms.

Less is more. People will avoid you if you don’t respect their time because you’re talking too much.

In meetings 

Before asking a question or making a point, be sure that it adds value. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to say this?”

Be cautious of asking questions as doing so shifts power away from you. It is better just to say what you want to say. Rather than, “Can I attend the conference?” say “I’d like to attend the conference.”

Don’t be a serial apologiser

Constantly apologising puts you down, reflects insecurity and low self-esteem, and implies that you’re to blame.

Explain rather than apologise. If you’re late for a meeting simply say, “I had every intention of attending but xxx happened.” Then stop talking!

If you made a mistake say, “You’re right, it was incorrect. I’ll fix it and it won’t happen again.” Then stop talking!

– In Part 2 we’ll discuss the art of small talk.


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