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Helen Young

Helen Young

December 18, 2014

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3 Statements Not to Use at Work

Mastering appropriate assertiveness is a must for getting your ideas noticed and earning the respect of clients, superiors, and co-workers. However, figuring out exactly how assertive to be can be tricky. Get too confrontational, and women look pushy. Fall back on traditional female communication styles, and we look like doormats.

For a little guidance on striking the right balance, WORKS checked in with Judith S. McClure, PhD, author of Civilized Assertiveness® for Women: Communication with Backbone…not Bite. “If women want to be taken seriously and exert influence,” Dr. McClure advises, “there are several phrases that they need to delete from their vocabularies FOREVER. These are ‘red flag words’ that always mark a person as non-assertive and easy to dismiss.”

1. I’m sorry. “Women say this 9 times more often than men. This overuse makes the phrase almost meaningless and it categorizes women as subordinate. If you need to apologize for something, it is assertive to say ‘ I want to apologize for …‘ and then move on.”

2. This may be dumb, but… This is probably wrong, but… “These qualifiers demonstrate that you haven’t thought it through, and that you are unsure of yourself and your ideas.”

3. …don’t you think? …wouldn’t you say? …don’t you? “These tags tacked on to the end of a statement, such as ‘I think Sara would be an excellent addition to the team,’ weaken the statement and ask for approval.”