Confidence, we’re often told, can be learned. Yet, what are the qualities of a truly confident person, and how can we adapt them for ourselves? I’ve coached thousands of career women from around the world, including those in high-level roles like CEOs, Global VPs and Executive Directors. I’ve observed them closely in their natural habitat. I’ve noticed that they have a unique way of speaking, one that not only portrays confidence but also inspires others to have confidence in them.
If you lead a team or aspire to do so one day, it’s important to know how to get through to the people around you and put them at ease—so that they trust your leadership in the face of whatever may come.
Your communication style is a tool you can use to influence everything from office culture to the way your company handles conflict resolution. We look to a leader to model appropriate workplace behavior, which includes communication of all kinds. You must be able to convey your confidence in your skills, knowledge, wisdom and expertise. When you speak with authority in a calm, grounded manner, you are letting us know that we can trust you and that you trust us as well. This is the synergy that all great leaders aspire to.
Here are three phrases that confident women use in the workplace that other people don't.
This one is great to use during workplace conflict resolution. Great leaders are unafraid of conflict and know how to navigate it in a way that benefits everyone. When you strip away surface issues, all conflicts have the same underlying source: people don’t feel seen, heard and appreciated. When you enter a conflict resolution space with someone, you want to do so in good faith that a solution is possible. To that end, make sure that you let them know their concerns have been heard. This simple phrase does double duty because it signals both that you’ve heard what they have to say and that you’re asking for the same courtesy from them. Make sure you’ve taken the time to listen before you use it.
There are likely many moments of workplace gossip, chatter, speculation and complaining that you don’t need to get involved in. These types of “extra” conversations can drain us or lead to extra unwanted stress that can affect our work. My high-level clients learned that lesson early and use this phrase to gracefully exit from conversations and subjects that don’t pertain to them. When you say this to those around you, you’re also signaling that minding one’s business is a good workplace policy. By choosing not to participate you’ll also reclaim some extra time that you can use to do your best work.
This is one that every career woman should know and use regularly. Never assume that the people around you, even your closest teammates, know the full extent of your expertise on a subject. It’s entirely appropriate to refer to your experience, especially in high-stakes situations when others might be feeling extra nervous and unsure of how to proceed on an issue. Being predictive also indicates that you have a good overview of the issue and are willing to go on record about possible outcomes. Now that’s confidence.
Speaking confidently is not just about the words you say, but also how you say them. If you’re going to use one of these phrases, make sure to take a good breath before you speak and raise your volume slightly. Don’t rush through your sentence; make it about 30% slower than social conversation. You want your words to land with maximum impact, which means they must be heard and understood by all. Try them out and keep working on them until they feel natural.
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
Alicia Dara is a nationally recognized speech and presentation coach based in Seattle. She has helped thousands of people including CEO’s, Global VPs, Executive Directors and Presidential candidates break through blocks, find their Power Voice, and put it to work. Her most popular group training is "Power Voice for Career Women", which helps women strengthen their voices, clarify their messaging, and push back against workplace sexism. In 2020 Alicia signed with the Carol Mann Agency for literary representation and is currently working on her first book about strengthening women’s voices in the workplace.
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