It’s none of your business, I said…

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting where someone said something I didn’t agree with. In fact, I felt quite strongly about my opinion, but I was new to this group and I did not know these people. At the time, I thought if I speak up and disagree they will think I am negative and disagreeable, and so lacking the courage to do otherwise, I kept my opinion to myself.  But, I left that meeting uncomfortable that I had stayed silent.

Almost immediately after the meeting, I thought of a favorite saying, one I’ve been trying to live by – it was advice a mentor gave me years ago, “what others think of you is none of your business.” I will never forget the first time I heard it. Hearing those words stopped me in my tracks.

“What others think of me is none of my business.”
 
Why didn’t I remember that while sitting in that meeting? I want to be supportive, honest and respectful of others, but most important – I want my choices and actions to reflect my authenticity and honor my integrity. Staying quiet because of my fear in that meeting did neither of those.
 
What others think of me? It’s none of my business.
 
I was talking about this with a member of my program the other day. She came to me worried about speaking her mind at work because of a group of critical women in her office. I said let me tell you something that someone once said to me – “what others think of you at work is none of your business.”
 
Because truly, there is only one opinion you need to worry about at work or anyplace else for that matter, and that is what you think of you!
 
Next time you are hesitating to speak up and make your point of view heard, ask yourself the following:
 
1. Is what I’m about to say in alignment with my values?
2. Is speaking up authentically me?
3. Does it feel right to stay silent?
 
My student was on board but thought it was surely easier said than done. She asked “How do I DO it, Emily?” I understood what she was saying because when I first heard this advice, I felt the same way. So, I want to share with you what I did and what I advised my client to do:
 
1. BELIEVE – you must first believe that what you say has value. Believing your opinion has value will give you the courage you need to express yourself. Believing your opinion is worthy of being heard leads others to believe it, too.
 
2. AFFIRM – Every morning write down the values that are important to you: I am honest; I am courageous; I am hard-working. Repeat them to yourself throughout the day. Your brain takes what you say as a program that it wants to execute on to make reality. Simply by saying these phrases your brain will believe they are true.
 
3. PLAN – Write down how you will handle conflict if it arises for you today – will you confront the person, will you set the record straight? Will you speak up for yourself? Being prepared with a plan has a huge impact on successfully handling situations when they arise. (Listen to Rick Hanson’s podcast on the courageous brain – https://www.rickhanson.net/a-courageous-brain/?highlight=courage)
 
4. PRACTICE – Finally, practice, practice, practice. Go into each meeting with the goal of contributing at least one thing. The more you speak up, the easier it becomes. The less you worry about it.
 
Employing these tips will help you to take more risks, speak your opinion and feel more confident!
 
Do you have something in your life or business where you are holding back because of the fear of other people’s opinions? Hit reply and let me know and tell me the first tiny step you are going to take to move towards it.

As a Professional Woman, are you Making This Mistake in Business?

Recently, I was having an important conversation with someone and even though I had prepared for it in advance and was certain of the exact words I wanted to convey, the conversation quickly went off track. In the moment – I got nervous, my mind blanked, and I blurted out the thing I thought would make him happy instead of the thing that I wanted and planned to say.

In my mind, I replayed the conversation for the entire 30-minute car ride home, upset at my people-pleasing behavior and that I hadn’t had the confidence to say what I wanted to say.

Finally, I said “enough.” I made a mistake. I will learn from the mistake, and I will try not to do it again. If you are a woman in business like me, you may have also been raised to be a “people-pleaser,” a nurturer whose focus is too often on the other person being happy. I’ve been working on changing that behavior for some time, so while erring on the “too nice” side still pops up occasionally, it is now the exception rather than the rule.

I found that becoming aware was the first step in changing my behavior so I could be my stronger, more authentic, self. When I am being authentic, I don’t want to please all people, but sometimes my discomfort with confrontation is so strong, I defer.

Last week, while teaching a class on this content, some women groaned as they recognized their own language choices in the descriptions of low-power vs high-power language and affect below:

Have you ever given away your credit?

  • Instead of owning your success with, “thank you, I worked hard on that.” You say: “It was no big deal,” “I got lucky,” “I couldn’t have done it without Joe and Mary?”

Are you using low-power language in your emails?

  • Self-effacing language – “Sorry,” “I guess what I’m saying,” “What this basically means…”
  • Undermining language – “Just,” “I’m no expert,” “I feel,” “I think,” “I believe,” vs. “I’m confident, I’m convinced, I expect”
  • Add unnecessary tag lines to the ends of sentence – “don’t you think?” “Does that make sense?” “Just a suggestion, ok?”
  • Use collective language (as though embarrassed to say I or my) -“We,” “Ours”

Check out this helpful Google app called, “Just Not Sorry”. It’s a Gmail Plug-in that highlights content in your emails, thus warning you when you write emails using words which undermine your message.

Developing a more confident image through your choice of language and non-verbals is worth the work – even if you are “faking it until you make it.”

Confidence is even more important than competence for some, according to this article, “The Confidence Gap” in the Atlantic Monthly:

“When people are confident, when they think they are good at something, regardless of how good they actually are, they display a lot of confident nonverbal and verbal behavior,” Anderson said. He mentioned expansive body language, a lower vocal tone, and a tendency to speak early and often in a calm, relaxed manner. “They do a lot of things that make them look very confident in the eyes of others,” he added. “Whether they are good or not is kind of irrelevant.” Kind of irrelevant. Infuriatingly, a lack of competence doesn’t necessarily have negative consequences. Among Anderson’s students, those who displayed more confidence than competence were admired by the rest of the group and awarded a high social status. “The most confident people were just considered the most beloved in the group,” he said. “Their overconfidence did not come across as narcissistic.”

And, the end of my story ? That day, though I felt awkward, I took a deep breath and contacted the person to schedule another conversation – this time it went as I had intended.

If you would like to begin using more high-power language, start by becoming aware of where you are communicating in ways that don’t represent the bold you that you want to convey. Grab a friend and do some role-playing. Nothing will help you own new practices and behaviors faster than taking action and doing.

Make the call to choose language more assertive.

I’ve created a helpful document with tips and role-playing exercises to help you practice fearless communication. Click here if you would like to receive a copy!

Interested in learning more about how you are communicating non-verbally? Check out this interesting article.

 

 

What Would Happen if Every Woman Spoke Her Mind?

What would happen if every woman in the world regularly spoke her mind?

What if she never worried that others might criticize her or call her a bitch?

What if it simply never occurred to her to try and please others when expressing her beliefs?

What if she never, ever, concerned herself with the need to be perfect – to make no mistake and avoid at all cost anything that would embarrass?

What if every woman spoke her mind – with no fear of criticism or rebuke? What if she never gave a thought to retribution from those more powerful? What if she always acted on her beliefs and refused to hold her tongue?

What if every woman believed her voice was needed – that speaking up was not just her right, but also her obligation? What if her commitment to herself, to her loved ones, and to the world was to speak up – to be heard, regardless of the risk?

Would the bullying strategies of industries who put profit ahead of safety stop? Would powerful individuals, who hurt others with impunity, be held accountable? Would we hold those in power to their promises? Would saving our planet for our children and future generations be a higher priority?

Would we still have mass shootings?

Would there ever again be a need for a campaign called, “me, too”?

Would we allow those motivated by power, hatred or greed to rule us – whether in our homes, our places of work, or our halls of government?

A year from now – what would the world look like if every women in it could own her power, use her voice, and speak her conscience?

Speak your mind.

Live your power.