Billions of work email messages are being sent and consumed right now; it’s pretty much how we communicate in our remote work setups. And while most of the time we get it right, sooner or later a lot of us face challenges in that online communication process. Today, we’re going to give you some tips on showing confidence in our digital communication.
All communication needs balance, and we don’t always get it right.
Sometimes composing a simple work email feels like the communication Olympics. It can be hard to convey what you mean — you don’t want to come across as a doormat, but you also don’t want to come across as a jerk.
There’s also the obvious double standard of women’s communication, in particular. Women are socialized to soften language to make it non-threatening. Historically, it’s what we’ve had to do to be let in the room. But this often works against us in the workplace. We may be seen as likeable and non-threatening, but usually this prevents us from being seen as leaders! It’s a standard that has long overstayed it’s welcome, and it’s definitely time to kick it to the curb.
Using more empowered language is a key step in asserting yourself in the workplace. Here are some tips to do just that.
Ease up on the qualifiers.
A qualifier is something you say to soften the tone of a statement. For example, the term “just my two cents” uses the qualifier of “just”. It’s minimizing and apologetic in tone. Even though when we remove qualifiers, women will often be perceived as cold or aggressive, it’s better to just ditch this tendency. Instead, you can present a statement more definitively, like “here’s my two cents.” Same statement, but more confident.
Qualifiers can also occur in punctuation. While we all love a good exclamation point, too many can be overly enthusiastic and honestly, kind of goofy. Emojis are also fun, but too many are unprofessional and unnecessary for qualifying tone in a work setting.
Ditch the filler.
If your tone is apologetic, self-effacing or diminutive, you’re probably using twice the amount of words you actually need. Try to be more concise. Ask yourself, “Can I say this in fewer words?” Focus on clarity instead of niceness and likability. If you want to do this without sounding robotic, you can use a greeting or a nice sign-off, or infuse some humor into your communication. Just make sure this isn’t self-effacing or ingratiating. Speaking of which…
Watch your greeting and sign-off.
If you regularly communicate with someone, a “Hi John”, will do. There’s no need to add in statements like “hope you’re doing well” or “hope you’re having a nice day”. Cutting to the point is better.
After sharing your thoughts, don’t sign off with: “Does that make sense?” It’s self-effacing, and what it’s actually doing is asking for validation. Instead, invite them to ask questions if they have them. Say “What do you think?” or “Let me know if you have any questions.”
Be Confident on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is now one of the fastest ways to network, so when you connect with someone don’t apologize for introducing yourself. It’s what the platform is for! You can just say ” I saw that article you posted yesterday and wanted to connect.” If you don’t want to go cold turkey with this, just start dialing the apologies back gradually.
Did these tips help your professional communication? Let us know in the comments!
Join the conversation