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Benefits of a little self-minimizing…

There are a range of workshops aimed at women to improve their confidence and address softer language associated with females.

Apparently, there are many women who say ‘Sorry’ and ‘use self- minimizing language’ or qualify what they say with ‘I am not sure I am an expert on this’. Of course, it could be irritating to others if these were your only lines and it could represent a dearth of communication and possibly a lack of confidence. But (not sure if this is allowed), what happens if a ‘little self- minimising’ and a ‘smidgen’ of uncertainty creates a context where others feel psychologically safe to be themselves and contribute their ideas? What happens if an apology shows others that we all make mistakes and that it is okay to be human? When is softness of language a strength?

I know some wonderful, caring male colleagues who happen to be very good at their jobs and who embrace softer language and their softer selves. I am not sure whether it is my programmed ‘female’ nature but I quite enjoy my own softer language for the most part of my life and the relationships with others that it supports and vice versa. I don’t want to change these male or female colleagues who  engage in these slightly tentative language practices at work and home. I am more likely to have a negative reaction to the over-and unnecessarily aggressive from men or women than the gentle and enabling. Some of the best leaders and managers I have known in my life have been able to be assertive when necessary but have been authentic, kind and humble. They have been uncomfortable around self-promotion and put others first. Let everyone embrace themselves, be they loud or quiet and let’s be polite and kind too. Most of all, let’s work for a context where everyone feels respected and valued so they can contribute fully at work whatever gender, race, ability and age they are.

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