As I was thinking this week about what my new year’s resolutions and hopes would be for 2016, I took a look back at 2015 to see how successful I was in bringing last year’s to life. There were two on my list. The first, “Do less and do it better”, is one I’ve been intensenly (if almost pychopathically) diligent about. Slayed.
The second: “Remove (decimate!, destroy!) qualifying language from your vocabulary”.
Hmm. I’m headed in the right direction but still have a long way to go before I kick that nasty habit.
This is the “I’m sorry, but…”, “just”, “maybe I’m misreading this but, …” language that we all use to some degree, and that women tend to overuse (this woman does!) in both our personal and professional worlds.
If you guys haven’t seen Amy Schumer’s “I’m sorry” video, it’s a perfect snapshot of what I’m talking about.
I don’t usually think of myself as someone who has trouble projecting (or being) confident, but I started to realize how often I relied on these little qualifiers to soften my message or make it more amenable to the person I was speaking to — at my expense. It went kind of like this:
Danielle: “I’m sorry, I think I must have misunderstood what you originally said — I’d be happy to redo this [insert piece of work, chore, favor for a friend] with this new understanding.”
Evil Friend | Client: “Thanks!”
Danielle (Screaming inside my head): “I’M NOT REALLY SORRY, YOU MESSED UP NOT ME AND NOW I’M ANNOYED AT YOU THAT I APOLOGIZED”
Seemed like something to get away from. And I see some variation of this all the time, particuarly in professional settings where men or male-culture dominates. It’s hard to watch, but harder to know that I contribute to it. So, since the beginning of this year, I’ve been tracking this closely – rereading my emails and being intentional in my speech to get rid of the “actuallys”, “I thinks” and, most importantly, the “I’m sorrys” (unless I really was sorry or wrong which, you know, is rare).
It is HARD. Even in this post I had to backspace a few times to get rid of some of those killers. Still, simply being aware of it has been eye opening and rewarding. I’ve become more honest with people and with myself. I don’t have a default setting of taking the lion’s share of the responsibility (and am less likely to become the screaming internal she-devil mentioned above). I’m more effective and clear, both at work and at home.
So, I think I’ll be pulling this one forward into 2016. I’m not done with it yet. If by the end of 2016, I’ve kicked this habit (and kept my chive plant alive…), I’ll call it a win.
P.S. Check out this article on the new Google Chrome app that tracks qualifiers for you! It red lines the words you don’t need, and you correct them as if you would a typo. Wish I had this guy last year!
P.P.S. Hope you all have a fabulous New Year’s Eve! Stay tuned for our report on our New Orleans’ style masquerade.