Want more power? Choose your words carefully
Updated: Jan 23
Using the right words doesn’t just make us better communicators, but leaves us feeling more in control as well. Here’s a quick run-through of words that won’t just change conversations, but will also give our power equations a boost.
How often do we mumble ‘sorry’ during a conversation? How about making a statement sound like a question, so we can avoid offending anybody or even drawing too much attention to ourselves? As women, we’ve been conditioned to use certain words and phrases more often than men; by talking small, we’ve ended up feeling small. Check out these two videos, which demonstrate how language makes women act differently.
So, how do we use language in a way that empowers us? We’re glad you asked! Here are some of our favourite words to use more often, and a few we’d rather forget.
1. No We always want to be liked; there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s an unrealistic expectation that makes us people-pleasers who are less than pleased with ourselves. Rather than saying ‘yes’ or even staying silent and feeling uncomfortable later, a firm ‘no’ spoken with conviction and backed by logic will give us more control in any situation.
2. Choice Unmarried at 35? Back to work soon after having a baby? Taking a sabbatical at the peak of your career? Unconventional decisions might raise eyebrows, but we’d rather live with that than carry regret around like chewing gum stuck to a shoe.
It takes courage and yes, financial freedom. Here at Basis, by helping women make better personal finance decisions, we make achieving life goals that much easier. “Financial planning is typically believed to be a man’s domain, but the truth is, women, need it more,” says Hena Mehta, CEO and Founder of Basis, adding, “Financial freedom gives us enough independence to make life-changing decisions and support ourselves, no matter what the consequences.”
3. Consent The #MeToo movement gave this word the attention it deserves, highlighting how crucial a woman’s agreement is in an interaction, particularly a sexual one. 50% of the power in any communication lies with us, and it’s up to us to let it proceed further or stop it.
4. Self-care While putting everyone else first might earn us a halo, it will also leave us feeling (let’s not forget looking) exhausted. Remember how good it feels to spend hours browsing through a book store, taking a day off from work and sleeping for an hour longer, or even taking an extra 20 minutes to get dressed? Well, it shouldn’t just be a memory.
Before you think that self-care is only about me-time, let’s talk retirement planning. Women usually leave it to men, though our needs are different. Women have a longer life expectancy but earn less than men (thanks to the pay gap), which means our healthcare costs are likely to be more. So even if you’re fresh out of college, investing and saving for retirement amounts to caring for the woman you’ll one day be.
1. Just They may be crutch words, but ‘just’, ‘actually’ and ‘basically’ don’t do much to prop up our speech. If anything, they make us seem unsure about the point we’re about to make, or worse, apologetic. Ditch them like snacks that are past their expiry date.
2. But Excuses, excuses! For a change, how about we only care about the part before ‘but’, not after? If “I need to invest, but it sounds too complicated,” is running a marathon in your mind, try ignoring the latter half of the sentence. Focussing on what you want instead of why it won’t materialise will improve your chances of getting it, don’t you think? Besides, making investments simpler is what we’re here for!
3. Sorry We’re all for politeness, but constantly apologising isn’t about good manners. Even if we aren’t doing anything wrong, saying ‘sorry’ gives others the impression that we are. It could also make them feel that they’re doing us a favour and immediately puts us at a disadvantage. Remember, if you don’t mean it, don’t say it.
Using language more mindfully will take time, so think of it in financial planning terms – it’s a long-term investment that will always leave you feeling more prosperous and more secure. So, which words are you going to start or stop using first?