At one time or another we’ve all done it. We have.
Instead of making a simple direct statement of our ideas, feelings, or opinions, we preface it with a “devalue tag.”
Before we deliver our statement, we apologize, ask permission, or smooth the waters in advance and give the appearance our thoughts aren’t all that important or valuable. We devalue what we are going to say even before we say it.
It goes like this:
- Instead of saying, “Wednesday is the best day to roll out the project,” we say, “Well, I was thinking maybe Wednesday is…”
- Instead of saying, “This budget is too tight to achieve the goals,” we say, “If you’re asking me, this budget is…”
- Instead of saying, “I disagree with this and I think we should do it differently,” we say, “I’m sorry, but I disagree and I was thinking…”
Does that sound familiar? How about this:
- “I heard once…”
- “I really don’t want to rock the boat…”
- “If it’s okay with everybody here…”
- “I’m not sure about this, but…”
- “If you have time…”
- “It’s just my opinion, but…”
Every one of these devalue tags indicates an unwillingness to stand up and directly speak our mind. We underhand our pitch to soften the impact of our words, overly worried about the consequences. Much of this is due to our desire to build consensus and keep the peace, which, isn’t a bad thing at all – but it shouldn’t be done at our own expense.
There is nothing wrong with making a simple declarative statement such as, “I disagree.” Say it with a smile and then go into the reasons why you disagree. Don’t apologize in advance, don’t ask permission, and don’t downplay your opinion. You don’t have to be harsh or brash, but don’t feel you are second-class either. Your ideas, thoughts, and opinions are just as worthy as anything your peers have to offer and your presentation should reflect that.
To gain more respect for your ideas and opinions in the workplace, or anywhere for that matter, strip as many devalue tags from your conversation as possible. Some will creep back in but the less you use them the better off you’ll be.
Don’t underhand your pitch with devalue tags. Speak directly and throw a few high hard ones now and then.
You’ll earn the respect your words deserve.