By: Kathy Shalhoub
‘I’m sorry to say this but…’ Have you ever started a sentence with the following words?
‘You may not believe me but I really feel that…’
‘Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think that…’
‘I don’t mean to be an ass but…’
Someone I was speaking to the other day started by apologizing for something they believed in and it got me wondering. Why do we do that? Why are so many of us so worried about how people will view our beliefs, our opinions, our thoughts and our feelings?
When somebody says to me: ‘You may not believe me but I like capers.’ I find myself telling them: ‘Yes, I believe you. Believe me I believe you!’ It’s almost as if they’re not sure of their own beliefs and are looking for someone to validate them. Why wouldn’t I believe you?
The other thing I get to thinking when someone says for example: ‘I’m sorry to say this but your pie doesn’t taste very good.’, is: What are they sorry about? Why are they being apologetic? It’s almost as if they had something to do with making my pie taste like cardboard. Wouldn’t stating an opinion simply be so much better? ‘I don’t think this pie tastes very good.’ That’s it.
Now I ask you, why the apology? Why the qualifier before stating something you think, feel or believe? All it does is weaken what you’re saying. It’s undermining your credibility and your authority before you’ve even made a statement. When you start a sentence with a negative, you’re conditioning your listeners to look for negatives!
In a business context, this is so much more relevant. Try it. Say these two sentences out loud and tell me which one rings true to your ears:
‘You may not believe me but I interviewed 40 candidates.’
‘I interviewed 40 candidates.’
‘I don’t mean to be an ass, but this graph is completely out of scale.’
‘This graphic is out of scale, do you think you can fix it?’
I assure you your boss won’t believe you if you start by telling him not to! I assure you your colleague will think you’re an ass if you start by telling her you don’t want to be one.
Be assertive. Don’t condition people’s thoughts for them! Be firm and confident, say exactly what you mean and don’t defend yourself if no one has challenged you yet!
Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.
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