Do you ever wish you could speak with confidence with everyone? Well, you’re not the only one. It seems the more important a situation is, the harder it is to maintain any level of self-assuredness when we’re talking.
So here’s One Little Change to help you Speak with Confidence:
Did you know that you probably say “I’m sorry” way more often than you need to or should? As children, our parents teach us to say sorry any time we may have been in the way, bothered someone, talked too loud, bumped someone or “caused” another to be sad or mad….we’ve learned to apologize as a way of excusing most of our uncertain social behavior and even some of our thoughts. “Sorry, I don’t see things the same as you, but…”
Not only is using the word sorry too much in our relationships and at work disempowering but it can sometimes be annoying to others and seem disrespectful. My mother once said to me, “stop saying “I’m sorry” and instead stop arriving home late. “I’m sorry” doesn’t let you off the hook for continued disrespect.”
She was right.
But even though she was right, she never quite taught me how to speak with confidence and own my right to an opinion and valuable thoughts. She only taught me to be polite and excuse myself before speaking. But when we preface our speaking with “I’m sorry,” we’re doing one of five things:
We’re stating that we don’t matter as much as others. We’re putting ourselves down. Apologizing for having an opinion or taking up time or space affirms that we believe we’re inferior to others.
We’re making an excuse for repeated incorrect action, ie. always being late, or forgetting to call. We falsely believe that I’m sorry can erase mistakes with no other effort. We even sometimes get angry when people don’t accept our apology as enough. But why should they? I’m sorry isn’t an apology when it’s used all the time; it’s disrespect.
We’re demonstrating a lack of confidence in our self. Even if we aren’t confident, we don’t need to announce it to the whole world by apologizing for our work or our words. I’m sorry literally erases most of what comes after it when we use it to tell people that what we plan to say doesn’t really matter all that much.
We’re trying to avoid confrontation, conflicts, and disagreements by making ourselves wrong first. yuk!
And the worst…saying I’m sorry to let someone know we think they are the wrongest kind of wrong and have offended our sense of decency. ie. putting words in their mouth for them.
Now, sure. We all make mistakes and it’s important to apologize for real errors, but there are many times when an apology isn’t the best way to speak with confidence even when you’re in the wrong. When we interact with others, we can speak confidently by assuming mutual respect and understanding. Using the words “Thank You” will always go a lot farther than “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” because they demonstrate respect and appreciation. They show others that we value their time and attention.
So stop simply apologizing and start appreciating the time and energy of the people you interact with.
NOTE: A friend shared with me a chart (scroll to end) of possible ways we can bring more power to our voices and I searched around to find the origin of the concept, but so many people have shared this thought in different ways that I couldn’t find the one true source. So all I can say is the following suggestions are excerpted from the WWW. I have also added a few of my own:
If you usually say,
I’m sorry, I’m late. > Instead say, “Thank you for waiting on me.”
Sorry to bother you. > Instead say, “Thank you for helping me.”
Excuse me, I have a question. > Instead say, “I’d like to ask a question, please.”
Sorry that I’m like that. > Instead say, “Thank you for accepting me the way I am.”
Sorry to have talked too much. > Instead say, “Thank you for listening.”
I’m sorry, but I disagree. > Instead say, “Respectfully, I disagree.”
Claiming the value of your words by eliminating sorry as a preface is confidence building. It’s personally empowering and improves the power of your voice. You’ll be surprised by what happens when you do. Others will immediately take you more seriously when you stop apologizing for having something to say whether it’s in agreement or disagreement.
Refusing to apologize when speaking to others demonstrates that you value not only your point of view but also your presence here in this world at this time. It affirms your value and sense of purpose. Plus when you do need to apologize to someone for saying or doing something really stupid, then even the words, “I’m sorry” will be more powerful because you haven’t been using them poorly all along.
Three more powerful tips to speak with confidence:
Practice making eye contact with people when you speak with them. It will show self-confidence and your willingness to connect.
Work on speaking more slowly and deliberately so you have time to practice awareness and control of your words.
Don’t simply let words fly out of your mouth. Practice what you want to say when the occasion for speaking is important like when you want to negotiate a raise or ask for change.
Changing the way we speak takes practice and good self-awareness. Building confidence with language requires time and a strong commitment to personal empowerment. It’s time to stop feeling sorry and start owning our voice in the world!!