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
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Nothing to do with this topic post, but wanted to let you know I recently discovered your poetry – LOVE it, and have shared it on my latest blogpost.
Hi Tara, I LOVED this post. I am guilty of every point in it and I will think about this not just when communicating by email but also verbally. Thanks.
Perfect. Such a great reminder of how easy it is to fall into old habits — in all communications. (Thanks, Kelly.) Am pinning it to my board and sharing with other women!!!!
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LOVE this list!
Thank you. This is such a good reminder that what we say and how we say it can influence ourselves and others. Great tips!
[…] Before you send your next professional email, read this – Tara Sophia Mohr Before you send your next professional email, check out Tara’s cracking list of “5 undermining communication habits… then delete, delete, delete the ones that you find!” […]
Terrific list, Tara! I started scanning my emails for self-undermining language a couple years back, and a few of my (non)favorites have been: “For what it’s worth…” and ending sentences in a question mark, as in “We should be thinking bigger?”
I know my intention around these tricks is to soften my delivery, but WHY? When editing them out, I’ll often remind myself that I am every bit as qualified to have opinions and perspectives as my male colleagues (not to make it a gender thing, but I think we can be real about this), who display no such aspirations to softness. Since I’ve been practicing this editing for strength, both men and women have stepped up to express their support and appreciation for my work, more than ever before.
Great post, thanks for the reminders Tara!
[…] In my written words (this recent post by the Playing Big gal herself…Tara Mohr…woke me up to this) […]
Tara, I LOVE this! This is something I, and many women I know, do subconsciously. Thank you for offering this as a checklist spelled out so clearly so we can re-empower ourselves!
Thanks for this post & I’m glad I actually read it! I just printed out the checklist & hung it on the wall above my monitor so I wouldn’t forget.
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