Our word choices in interviews, speeches, presentations, and even casual conversations, say more about us than most people may realize. Many people undermine themselves without even knowing it.
Have you ever heard the owner of a small business say, “We’re just a small…” or an entrepreneur say, “I’m just a…”? The words “just a” immediately diminish their accomplishments.
I often hear stay-at-home mothers undermine themselves similarly, saying, “I’m just a mom.” This minimizes the importance of what they do. Instead they could say, “I’m a full-time mother,” and leave it at that. Or, they could say, “I’m taking time to focus on my family full-time right now,” which may feel more comfortable for women who plan to return to the workforce.
Other ways that people may undermine themselves is to talk about their perceived limitations as business people. People say things like, “I’m so disorganized,” or “I’m a mess,” or “I’m overwhelmed.” All of these statements make one appear out of control, incompetent and/or not very reliable.
Undermining statements like the ones above are a form of negative self-talk. In addition to diminishing your accomplishments, negative self-talk can take the form of putting yourself down or not accepting compliments.
Remember that everything you say to others, you are reinforcing in your own mind. Your brain cannot help but to hear those self-deprecating words and, more than likely, you will internalize them. Don’t say anything about yourself that you don’t want to be true.
Eliminating negative self-talk is important for anyone. It is not productive, it is disempowering, and it reinforces beliefs you don’t want to hold about yourself. Really, you must replace the negative self-talk with positive self-talk. This is a part of the work I do with my clients because it’s as important as anything else you can do to be a powerful communicator or leader.
Get used to confidently stating what you do without diminishing or minimizing yourself or your accomplishments in any way.
This post was written by Lisa Elia, a media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert, and speaker. She trains clients around the world for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, panels, investor presentations, and promotional videos. With more than 25 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E!, and many others. Clients include entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between as well as athletes, celebrities, and other public figures.