Are You A Victim of Minimizing Language?

The ability to communicate effectively and confidently has a dramatic effect on our ability to advance, and at times, you may find yourself falling into the trap of using weak language that sabotages your efforts to present yourself with authority and confidence.

For example, look at the following sentence:

“I would just like to say I’m not an expert, but I do know a bit about the subject.”

This one sentence says it all! By using the words “just”, and stating that I am not an expert, but, you have reduced your credibility to almost zero! How many times have you heard people communicate this way? How many times have you yourself spoken this way?

Replace weak words such as: “I think”, “I believe”, and “I feel”, for stronger options such as “I’m confident”, “I’m convinced”, “I expect”. These simple replacements can make a difference in how your message is perceived.

Look at the same sentence using powerful words:

“I do know a bit about the subject and in my opinion….”

Another example of weak language is using tag lines at the end of a sentence. For example: “This is a great article, don’t you think?” and “Our team is functioning great, isn’t it?” A tag line at the end of a sentence weakens the statement. It lowers your authority as a speaker. It communicates that you are not completely confident and must seek reassurance.

Focus your communication at gaining respect above being liked. Avoid weak language so that people hear your message clearly.

Taking out weaknesses in your communication doesn’t mean you are aggressive, or forceful. Not at all! The kind of strength you develop in communicating without diminishing language allows you to be direct and assertive and will create an environment for others to feel your authority, to see your credibility and to respect your expertise. Be yourself, be authentic and communicate fearlessly.

Become aware of when you use weak language and eliminate or replace the words and phrases that have a negative impact on your professional image.

True story: I coached a client who introduced me to someone who asked what I did for a living. “I work with senior leaders to help them adapt to and lead effectively in foreign cultures. I help my clients develop their global leadership personas,” I said. It is hard work, it requires lots of planning, researching and interviewing, and I am quite successful at it. My friend’s friend chimed in, “Oh she’s one of those who can’t get a full time job,” then giggled. I felt diminished. This type of undermining is destructive to relationships. I, of course, bounced back and corrected her. I also learned how to respond to such underhanded comments.

These types of comments are passive-aggressive and many times they go unnoticed or get passed over as a joke. They are not jokes, they are destructive comments meant to undermine you.

You’ve probably been there. Maybe it’s at work. Maybe you want to eat healthier so you can lose weight. Or maybe you’re spending less money as a way to get your finances in order. Whatever the situation, most of us have dealt with a friend, a colleague or a family member who seems to enjoy knocking you down a peg.

It’s called social undermining, and it may seem harmless, but it can take an emotional toll on you. You start to doubt yourself, you feel a lack of support, and after a while, and especially if it continues, you become resentful.

So how do you nip undermining behavior in the bud? Look at the following tips.

Understand the Signs

Before anything, make sure you’re actually dealing with social undermining. We all put our foot in our mouths occasionally. What seems like social undermining might just be someone saying something stupid. For example, when you comment that you saved a bundle on your daughter’s wedding and your friend comments, I agree “cheap” weddings could be great. Quickly realize that she may have been unaware that her comment was off and that what may have sounded to you like a criticism is really something she admires and It was an honest mistake; it was not intended to hurt feelings. However, when there is an underlying motive, you are dealing with a different scenario.

An “Underlying Motive” is behavior intended to hinder and weaken your goals or successes.

Take note of the following traits in someone who does this?

They do it to others: Take notice you’re not the only one they speak to in such manner.

You feel defensive around them: You feel defensive, like you have to prove something, and you’re not quite sure why.

They’re judgmental: They like to gossip about the lifestyle choices of other friends or family members. They might disguise gossip and judgment as concern.

They’re great at backhanded compliments: Their compliments, however, seem strange and insulting.

They overcompensate: They oversell themselves as supportive, nurturing, or caring and use statements such as, I’m only saying this because I love you and care about you.

They tempt you: They steer you away from your goals by offering tempting alternatives. When you’re trying to stick to a diet, they urge you to eat unhealthy food. When you’re trying to save money, they tempt you to splurge.

If you really are unsure if the person you are communicating with is undermining you, ask someone you trust to observe and ask them what their thoughts are.

I end this piece with my famous quote: “Fortitude is the foundation of successful communication – and successful communication is the foundation of success.” © 2018, Candida Marques Global Arrival, LLC

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