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Speaking habits that weaken women's leadership
March 22, 2015, 11:43 am

There are a few common patterns of talking that make a woman sound unsure of herself and can stand in the way of being seen as confident leaders.

Many women are not even aware that the words they choose can sound weak to others. While they often use this self-effacing language to create a more collegial or collaborative atmosphere, it actually diminishes them and ends up making them sound less like leaders.

Here are a few patterns that make them sound unsure of themselves.

Asking permission: Women ask permission to speak when there is no need to. The notion that they are merely adding on to what others have said - and asking whether the other person can even do so - casts the women as a subordinate. Women also tend to over apologize when joining a conversation; sorry to interrupt

Reinforcement questions:  Women often ask questions when they already know the answers. An astonishing 80 percent of women say they prefer to ask questions even when they know the answer. Though such questions are intended to get reinforcement from their listener, they make the speaker sound unsure.

Using modifiers: Women frequently use modifiers that weaken their tone. The worst kind are words such as "just"--as in "I'd just like to say something." They also use "a little bit," as in "I'm a little bit concerned."

Softer verbs: Women favor softer verbs. They preface with: I think, I believe, I guess and other softer qualifiers, rather than outright say: I know or this is how it should be done. Women claim to be "not sure," even when they are sure, and they weaken their verbs even more when they have to ask someone to do something.

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