During my time on computers every day I enjoy looking at the MUST READ section that pops up on my default FireFox page. Today I ran into an interesting article from getpocket.com titled Six Verbs That Make You Sound Weak (No Matter Your Job Title). I thought this was interesting because I assumed it would either be something silly or something ridiculous and unnecessary. It turns out that both were correct.
Now, I am not trying to bash this website, or the author of this article, however, I do think it is important to address the issues with articles like these. The article gives examples of the verbs; want, need, hope, guess, think, and suppose. It states that using these verbs will make you appear weak and cause you to harm your authority, making you less respectable and more likely to lose control over your workers and environment. Reading through the examples I thought to myself, “Oh! So, bosses shouldn’t say things that make them sound human because they could be perceived as “weakness”.” The article also implies that as an employee, interviewee, or person, you are less likely to be taken seriously if you use these phrases. You also do not sound decisive enough when using the phrases.
In a certain respect I understand why this advice is being given. We live in a society where we need to be constantly perceived as strong and having our shit together. But this is the same type of behavior that causes people to have the image that their boss is a ruthless asshole who could care less about them and only prioritizes the wants and needs of the company. This creates a lack luster, stressful work environment which does not set any workplace up for success.
The thing that disappoints me most about the mention that these words make people appear weak is that that idea does not stop at work. These people then go out and apply that behavior to their everyday lives. The idea that we should always appear to be on top, happy, strong, and assertive does very few favors for one’s personal life. The same ideas help about the uptight boss and the annoying co-worker can be transferred to how people think about you in a relationship.
I am very aware of this behavior because I have been this way and am only now working to improve upon it. I have spent most of my life “not needing anything from anyone”, not wanting anything, putting on this show of being put together at all times, and making sure that the armor never had any visible cracks. This did not make me stronger. It only made me more isolated.
If I had read this just a year ago, I would have agreed whole heartedly! I would have printed this article and hung it up at my desk. I would have worked to move these week words out of my vocabulary, if they were even there in the first place. This article, and all others like it, were a regular reading of mine, to which I was proud to say, “I already do that!” Fortunately for myself, I was able to recognize this behavior through self-reflection and feedback from some of my closest confidants. Since realizing the way in which my attitude toward “weakness” was affecting my overall happiness, behavior, attitudes, and actions, I have been able to move toward a better version of myself where I don’t worry about being perceived as weak or not being in complete control of everything around me. This adjustment to my own behavior has helped me lower my anxiety, become less stressed, and be happier in general.
So, I suppose I just wanted to let others know that it is ok to use these phrases. It is ok to think instead of know, it is ok to want and need. And I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope you don’t feel weak for it.