Have you listened to yourself recently?

Really paid attention to how you talk to others? About yourself I mean. I am assuming you are respectful and considerate to others, as you are awesome, and awesome people don’t need to be told that.

But what do you say to others about yourself?

The words we use to talk about ourselves can make or break the way others think about us. But you know that don’t you?

Do you?

I mean, you do. But do you really?

I’ll give you some examples, and let’s see. How many sentences do you use, in business or at the workplace, that involve any of the following:

“I’m just…”

“I’m only…”

“Sorry, but….”

“I’m not very good at…/ I’m no expert but…”

“Trust me to forget that/ mess that up/ etc…”

“Knowing my luck x, y and z will happen…”

” If/ do you see what I mean..”

And similar.

How about with your friends? Family?

I’m not blaming you for this by the way. I do it myself. Less often, now that I am aware of it. But I still do it occasionally.

I remember a manager picking me up on the last one. Apparently he counted the number of times a day I said something along the lines of “you know?” or “do you see what I mean?” It wasn’t just a bad habit – though it was certainly an annoying one for him. It was me, constantly checking that what I was saying was what was expected, was OK. Constantly asking for permission to keep going. Constantly asking for validation of my words. It was evidence of my own self-doubt. Handed, on a plate, to the person in charge of my career within that company. He was kind enough to point that out to me, not only telling me it was annoying as hell, but that I was giving a bad impression of myself.

I also used to be a big apologiser. Maybe that’s part of being a Brit, you might say. Or maybe it was a learned behaviour. But I would apologise many times a day. The same guy pointed it out to me, though it was many, many years before I broke that habit. I would say things like, “Sorry, I don’t mean to bother you, but I’d just like to point out…” before I would get to the freaking point.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being polite. Of course there isn’t. But this isn’t politeness. It is sending off signals that you are unsure of yourself, unsure of your abilities, unsure of your worthiness to say whatever you have to say. Qualifying the points you make with apologies, or buts, or justs, or any other of the phrases I mention above (and a whole lot more) sends a message to others that you are not confident.

And not only that. They send a message to yourself that you are not confident. And each time you do this that message to your own self-esteem will be reinforced. Do you really want to go through life telling yourself and everyone around you that you aren’t good enough?

Didn’t think so.

Maybe you are readng this and thinking, well, I don’t do that. If so, great. But make it a regular exercise to listen to yourself as you talk with others, especially in business or at work. Check you aren’t doing it, and if you are, stop; You can replace those phrases with strong phrases, or just eliminate them. That’s up to you. Doing that won’t make you rude but it will project a more confident you both to yourself and to others. Which is a win win for everyone.

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