I have two daughters. I want them to have equality in their impact on the world. Culturally women have been taught to make people feel more comfortable and at ease. We can have trouble standing out, speaking up, being ambitious and strong. We undermine our thoughts and ideas with weak language.
Have you noticed how men and women speak differently? Strong language is more prevalent among men than women. Language reflects our willingness to comply or alternately to be decisive. One of the most offending words is the word “just”. I just want to tell you that the customers don’t like the candy. The customers don’t like the candy. I just want to tell you that when you do that it hurts my feelings. When you do that it hurts my feelings. Women should strike the word “just” from our language. Language is influence. Strong language is power.
“I would love”, “I feel”, “I believe”, “I’m sorry, but” all can have similar softening effects of our opinions. I would love to have sushi for lunch. I want sushi for lunch. I feel that this move would increase our product’s desirability. I expect this move would increase our product’s desirability. I believe that we should be inclusive. We should be inclusive. I’m sorry, but I disagree. I disagree. Let’s replace those soft words and ideas with “I’m confident”, “I expect”, “I’m convinced”. This does not mean we don’t use diplomacy. Thoughtful and kind language is important. Having good emotional intelligence is important. But, let’s end soft posturing and over-flexibility and be courageous about about our verbal expressions. Let’s be fearless with what we believe and the way we express it.
Weak language is not taken as seriously. Unapologetic, direct communication will get our daughters farther in having influence. It begins with us, ladies. Let’s model strong language and not worry how our ideas are taken. They are our ideas. Let’s own them proudly.
*my daughters (and daughter from another mother) and I, Lincoln City, Oregon*