Eliminate the language that keeps you small. Then you’re free to grow.

Do you play down your experiences because that’s what you think people expect of you?

There has been lots of news media lately about women being in awkward, abusive positions, placed there by men, other women, life circumstances, but I want to draw your attention to the fact that in our EVERYDAY language, we sell ourselves short of our experience, skills, and awesomeness.

I’ve done it, I hear others do it, and I want to bring it to your attention, so you can STOP doing it.

It’s like we apologize for being awesome!

Here are some examples I’ve heard, used, and experienced.

“I just need to do _____, then I can help you out.”

I want to bring your attention to the word “just”. It sneaks in. It’s belittling your task and experience over the person you are about to help. Stop using this word.

“I just need to photocopy these few items, then I’ll be ready for the meeting.” As in, I ONLY need to do that, then I’m perfect, ready, and willing and able, etc. etc. I’m not ready/whole/complete WITHOUT doing that first. Please wait for me.

Ugh.

Listening to our own words is a stepping stone to better communication with others.

Here’s a different scenario: I was at the doctor’s a few years ago and she suggested I get a few moles on my back checked out more thoroughly.

I passed it off and said, “Oh, I don’t want to take up time in the health system checking a few little moles.” Her response touched me. “You won’t be a burden on the system, just by checking they are not cancerous. It’s why we have a health care system.” (I’m from Canada where our public health system is lauded around the world).

By making smaller my personal health experience, I was playing down my value, my good health. I was trying to make sure I wasn’t ‘being a bother’ to anyone, perceived or otherwise.

Note to self:

STOP DOING THAT.

Another way words keep us small is the way we play down experiences of harassment, abuse, or otherwise unwanted attention.

We say “Oh, it’s not big deal.” Or “I better not make a fuss.”

Women are just as likely to accuse other women of making a fuss out of something as men. It’s important that we develop both listening and speaking skills that support everyone.

Listening to our own words is a stepping stone to better communication with others.

So, this month, I invite you to listen to your words and become aware of when you are playing something down, making it smaller, or otherwise belittling your own experience, at the expense of your own self-worth and expansion.

As always – I invite you to comment, send me an email, or share this blog if you feel moved to do so.

Thank you and remember, small changes lead to big results. Eliminate the language that keeps you small.

Jen Lang, Your Voice and Communications Coach
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