Bad move. You’ve just sabotaged your credibility.
“A man wouldn’t raise his hand,” workplace-communication maven Colette Carlson told admins gathered at the Administrative Professionals Conference here in October. “So, why should you?”
Instead, said Carlson — who cut her business teeth as an admin before becoming a national sales trainer for U.S. West and founding Colette Carlson Communications (www.SpeakYourTruth.com) in Encinitas, Calif. — you must learn to speak up early … within the first one-third of the meeting.
“If you don’t,” Carlson told the admins, “you’re perceived as bringing nothing to the table. The earlier you jump in” — even if it’s just to voice support of someone else’s idea — “the more you’re seen as a contributor.”
Carlson outlined several other communication mistakes that too many professional women make, including:
- Using phrases that signal a lack of confidence. Examples: “I could be wrong …,” or, “I’m probably forgetting something … .” “They protect us,” Carlson says of such defensive phrases, “so that, if you don’t like my idea, you’ll still like me.”
- Adding “tag lines” to your statements. Example: “We’ll send the contract on Friday … OK?” or, “It would be better if we scheduled lunch before 1 p.m. … don’t you agree?” “Tag lines make it sound as if you’re asking for approval,” says Carlson.
- Over-apologizing. Example: “I’m sorry, but I need to ask what business you have with Mr. Smith.” “Saying you’re sorry implies fault,” Carlson says, and undermines your credibility.
- Looking unprepared when you enter a room. Example: Fidgeting, making hurried, jerky movements, shifting your eyes from person to person. “The fewer movements you make,” says Carlson, “the more people perceive you as prepared, confident and under control.”
- Deflecting praise. Example: Your colleagues commend you for your work on an important project. You reply: “Well, it still needs a lot of work.”