It may be 2014, but many of the outdated perceptions and stereotypes surrounding female employees continue to linger. Men are considered the usual suspects when it comes to adversely pigeon-holing women at work, but could women be unknowingly perpetuating the old stereotypes themselves?

Female professionals should not feel the need to prove themselves equal to male colleagues, but they do need to consider the words they use when they talk about themselves.

A subconscious fear of being considered a “ball-breaker”, “hard-nosed” or just “not very nice” leads many women to devalue themselves subtly, often without realising it.

If you don’t value yourself, why should others value you? A few little changes to your use of language can be enough to start shifting your colleagues response to you. Here are some of the key phrases to avoid and what you could say instead:

Phrase to avoid: “I can’t”
You’re doing yourself a disservice by saying you can’t do something you’ve been asked to do. If someone has enough faith in your capabilities to ask you, then the chances are you’ll be more than up to the task.
What you should be saying: “Yes, I can!”

Phrase to avoid: “I’m sorry, but…”
Apologising when there’s no need is one of the hallmarks of a someone with limited self-confidence. Begin a conversation like this and you’re immediately subservient to the person you’re addressing. Save it for when you’ve actually done something to be sorry for.
What you should be saying: Nothing

Phrase to avoid: “I don’t know”
Admitting you don’t know is a quick way to avoid a challenging situation and avert potential failure. Though undoubtedly the safe option, this approach closes the door to new opportunities. Meanwhile, someone less able is trying their luck.
What you should be saying: “Let me look into it”

Phrase to avoid: “I’ll try”
Offering to give something your “best shot” hardly instills confidence. At worst, saying you’ll try is likely to raise severe doubts as to your ability to get the job done. Be a doer, not a tryer.
What you should be saying: “I’ll get it done”

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