Before you send your next professional email, read over this list, and check for these 5 undermining communication habits that are so common for women. Then delete, delete, delete the ones that you find!
You’ll communicate more powerfully — and your colleagues will appreciate the clearer, more succinct writing too.
Here’s your handy checklist:
Before You Hit ‘Send’ Checklist
____ 1. Check for “shrinkers” — words like “just,” “actually” and “almost” (As in, “I just think….”, “I actually disagree,” “I almost want to suggest that we…”) Delete them!
____ 2. Check for any unnecessary apologies – places where you are saying sorry for no good reason, or for simply taking up space on the planet. (“Sorry to bother you but,” “Sorry if this is a silly question…)
____ 3. Check for any instances of “Does that make sense?” “Am I making sense?” or “Do you know what I mean?”. Replace these questions with something like, “I look forward to hearing your thoughts” or “Let me know if you have questions about this.” I know you were just trying to make sure your audience understood you, but you can find out if they have questions without implying that you’ve been incoherent.
____ 4. Check for any undermining qualifiers: “I’m just thinking off the top of my head, but…”, “I’m no expert in this, but…,” or “You clearly know about this more than I do but…” Delete the qualifier and just say what you have to say.
____ 5. Check for places where you are hiding your point of view behind a question. Instead of sharing your opinion, i.e. “I think this is the wrong direction for us to take” you might have written, “Does everyone feel sure about this direction?” Sure, sometimes, we use questions instead of statements for strategic reasons- to be diplomatic or non-threatening, but more often we do it because we are afraid to take a stand or we are afraid of being seen as unlikable if we rock the boat. Use questions as replacements for more explicit statements when it’s strategic – but not as a way of hiding your ideas.
There’s your checklist! You can sign up here for the PDF version of this checklist and other Playing Big resources.
photo credit: Gaelle Marcel