By Christine Condon
Public relations expert Jennefer Witter has something to say to women in business about the language that we use. As the founder and CEO of The Boreland Group, a public relations agency in New York City, and the author of The Little Book of Big PR, Witter speaks with authority on communications.
Ellevate Network and 92Y spotlighted Witter in their "Women Who Lead" video series, where she shares both her observations about how some women communicate in the workplace, how it affects their image, and how to improve it.
No more "I'm Sorry!"
Somehow "sorry" has crept into our lexicon almost as a default. Witter states, "I think we need to be cognizant of how we speak. For example, stop it with the 'sorry.' Women constantly apologize when there is no need to apologize. They will apologize if they have a differing opinion. They are sorry if they are interrupting a conversation... Men do not do that. Whenever you apologize, you diminish yourself. Just say what you have to say, and if you disagree, say you disagree."
Do Not Ask to Say Something
Witter has also observed that women often ask, "May I say something?"
Witter says, "No, don't ask. Say 'I have something to say.' Make it a firm statement, because people will listen to you." But they won't if you ask. "It just puts you in such a submissive position."
Witter also notes that women raise their hand to ask a question in a meeting. While she admits she's speaking in broad strokes, she says that "many women will raise their hand and say, 'Can I ask a question?'" It's time for women to stop asking permission to speak up.
Demand Respect -- You Deserve It
"Last but not least, demand respect," Witter states with conviction. "We as women need to move ourselves out of our mindset and act like we deserve to be at the table, because we do deserve to be at the table...We are there because of our skills and experience, and don't think otherwise."