Actions speak louder than words, or do they? Our words yield great power, probably more than many of us realize. I believe in setting intention. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my words impact not only the person I’m speaking with, but also how they impact me. What do the words I speak say about me? Does the intention behind what I say align with the meanings of the words I use? If my intentions are good, does it really matter? Based on countless conversations with others and my personal soul journey experiences, I’ve concluded that it does matter because how we use words can also have unintentional consequences. How we use words speaks volumes! Specifically, there are two words that I believe say a lot more about the speaker than the recipient.
SORRY The word sorry is a word I believe has been overused and misused, especially by women. Let me provide you with a few scenarios to make my point.
1. You are in the grocery store and another shopper would like to pass you. There’s not enough space in the aisle. You politely move your cart and say sorry.
2. During a meeting at work, you would like to ask a question or express your thoughts. You start your dialogue with “I’m sorry, can you please explain…” or “I’m sorry, but I think…”
3. While looking for the exact change to pay for a purchase, you apologize because you feel like it’s taking too long or you are inconveniencing the cashier and the patrons behind you. (This happens to me frequently and I find myself saying sorry repeatedly as I search for another dime in my wallet. I must admit that part of me wants to apologize right now for being old-school and using cash instead of swiping my card or phone!)
4. You’ve just experienced something incredible. You go home and call your best friend to tell her all about it. After expressing all your feelings, you say, sorry for rambling.
5. And my personal favorite – you say sorry for saying sorry too much!
I’m sure many of you can relate to these exact experiences. We may believe that saying sorry is the polite response and I would agree if apologizing is warranted. According to dictionary.com, to apologize means to “offer an apology or excuse for some fault, insult, failure or injury.” Based on this definition, I don’t believe an apology is necessary in the five scenarios listed above. This doesn’t mean we still can’t be polite or say sorry when we’ve done something wrong. However, when we apologize when it’s not needed we are essentially expressing a lack of confidence and saying that we are inferior or not worthy. Instead, rewrite the script and replace sorry with excuse me, thank you for (listening, your patience, etc.) or simply don’t say sorry at all. Here are two great video links that speak to the same sentiment:
Pantene ‘Sorry, Not Sorry” Commercial (This ad sends a powerful message of empowerment.)
Sorry Reflex Barbie Challenge (I encourage you to take on this challenge. I bet you will be shocked at how many times you say sorry in one day. I sure was!)
JUST I’m not going to lie; the word just is one of my most favorite adverbs and it has been a challenge for me to be more mindful of when and how I use it. A girlfriend of mine who works in the corporate world, told me that she never uses the word just because doing so expresses inferiority. This is not something you want to do when you are a woman working in an industry with mostly men. She works as a project manager and her communications need to be clear, decisive and firm. Otherwise, she risks being taken advantage of, not being taken seriously, or having her authority undermined.
When we say the word just, we may be striving for politeness, but what we are actually doing is saying that our opinions, demands, instructions or whatever it is we are trying to convey aren’t that important. Let’s give it a try. Read the following statements as if you are the speaker and think about how they make you feel.
Hey, it’s just me. Do you have a sec to chat?
I just need a moment of your time. When are you available?
I’m just following up to see if you’ve had a chance to look over my proposal.
Now repeat each example without the word just. What do you notice? Which way do you think you would be taken more seriously? The word just in these examples minimizes the speaker’s importance and expresses a submissive voice. Moreover, it seems to imply an unspoken apology when none is needed.
Certainly, there are scenarios when using just seems innocuous. For example, if I said to a friend, “I just love your shirt!” that doesn’t sound harmful, right? The old me would agree, but not so much anymore. I’ve realized that adding the wordjust belittles my opinion and self-worth. When I read that statement now, this is what I hear: Just little ole’ me loves your shirt, not that it matters much.
Removing just from your list of available adverbs does not make you aggressive or any less polite. You can still get your point across and continue to be friendly. Most importantly, people will respect you because you respect yourself enough to know your worth. Furthermore, when you speak as if you are worthy, as if your voice matters, you will begin to feel that way as well. Your power of speech and demeaner will reflect your confidence. Rewrite your script, because you are not just a mere mortal! You are the amazing and unique YOU... who deserves to be heard without apology!