I consider myself to be a confident and articulate person, but I recently discovered that I have been undermining myself consistently without even realizing it. I have developed communication patterns that have caused me to lose job opportunities, lose clients, lose partnerships, or lose something else. All without even knowing.
I guarantee that the same thing is happening to you.
Here are 5 ways to communicate with confidence.
1) Cut out the Hedges
Hedge words are filler words and tend to show that you aren’t sure about what you are saying, or that you aren’t ready or willing to commit 100%. You use these words to hedge your bets. I use them a lot.
Some examples are: just, actually, kind of, a bit, almost, seems, maybe, hopefully, etc.
I just wanted to write to say thank you.
Why the word just? Because you are unsure. Does it add any meaning? No. Could you take it out? Absolutely.
I wanted to write to say thank you.
Same exact meaning, but more powerful and confident.
2) Lose the Disclaimers
It’s okay to not be the most experienced and still share your opinion. Sometimes your lack of experience and your fresh ideas might be just what your boss, or colleagues, or mother-in-law need to hear.
These are disclaimers:
I am not an expert, but…
I know that I am new here, but…
Does that make sense?
This is just an idea, but…
I could be wrong, but…
I am just thinking off the top of my head…
Speak boldly and share your ideas. Even if they don’t like your idea, they will respect you for being confident enough to share it.
3) Stop Apologizing for Existing
I wrote about over-apologizing a little while back, but it is something that I still continue to work on.
While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I was playing the card game Hearts with my family. I lead a card that later caused my brother-in-law to take a whole lot of unwanted points. When we were tallying up the points I felt a little bad, so I apologized.
A few days later I was standing in line at the United ticket counter at O’Hare airport and there was a long line of people behind me. At some point, I turned around and apologized to those waiting. The ticket agent had left the counter to go solve our problem, but I was the one apologizing.
In both situations, I apologized for existing in the world like it was a burden to those around me. Totally unnecessary.
Be confident in who you are and the choices that you make. You are not a burden.
If you make a mess, fix it and apologize. Otherwise, let someone else do the apologizing.
4) Speak in Declarations, not Questions
Ever notice how some people end their sentences with little lilt at the end? It’s when you make a statement, but you change the pitch of the last word to make it sound like a question. If you have ever spoken a foreign language like Spanish or French, you will know what I am talking about because this is a legitimate way to speak. Not so in English.
We often do this unconsciously when we aren’t 100% confident in our statement, so we make it sound like a question instead.
The problem is that it gives the sentence a bit of sing-songy tone and you end up sounding like the stereotype of a Californian valley girl.
It’s not cute and it doesn't show confidence.
5) Pause and Breathe
When we are nervous or unsure about ourselves we have a tendency to rattle on and on. Our speech becomes rushed and our sentences get jumbled together. Whatever we have to say becomes one long run-on diatribe and the listener can’t keep up. We also come off as insecure and unprepared.
When you write, you add periods to indicate a pause. Do the same when you speak and use that pause to breathe.
Over the next few days or weeks, pay attention to how you communicate. Focus on one these 5 ways in which you undermine yourself and your power. You can elicit the help of a friend or loved one to also keep an ear out.
If you notice yourself communicating with hedges, use that awareness to turn things around. If you don’t, great. See if another one is tripping you up.
Once you have worked through one, move on to the next one. In time, you will be communicating with more confidence.
It's Your Life. Live It Boldly.