The seven words all freelancers should utter

There are so many ways to say a single thing and every one of those ways means something different to your listener, as you say it, writes communications expert Kay White (pictured) , founder of Way Forward Solutions.

In your next client meeting…

Imagine you’re in a meeting and someone asks if anyone is able to take on a new project or put some figures together. You think to yourself, ‘I could probably do that,’ but you may sit on that thought and say nothing and wait for someone else to offer - or you may put yourself forward. The trick here is, if you do decide to step up and offer, it’s how you put yourself forward.

Assertive Vs Aggressive

To use assertive, positive language when you’re going about your freelance business sends a message, very clearly, to those around you that you’re someone who gets on with things and who can be trusted to do things.

A lot of people struggle with the difference between coming across as aggressive and coming across as assertive. Assertive is ‘self-confident, self-assured, firm,’ and aggressive is ‘hostile, belligerent, forceful.’ Of course, there’s a markedly different energy about the two.

Dispel any doubt

As a communicator, you’re going to be far more effective if you come across as clear, firm and self-confident as you go about your business, rather than belligerent or, almost worse, wishy-washy using indecisive language. It casts doubt.

You could offer to help on this new project in so many ways and depending on how you say it, your message lands differently:

  • ‘I suppose I could do it’ – I suppose meaning I might be able to, if pushed. And I could meaning I can, but I’m not saying I will.
  • ‘I might have some capacity to do it’ I migh t doesn’t mean to say I will and, here, apparently because you feel you’ve already got too much on!
  • ‘I’ve got enough on my plate’ unhelpful, defensive and negative.
  • ‘I’ll try to do it’ – I might be able to do it but I’m not really sure I’ll be able to.’ Again, be careful about leaving your listener in doubt.
  • ‘Leave it with me. I’ll do it.’ I’m able to do it and I will do it.

We all know which one of those simple phrases gives the most reassurance, give the most credibility and which one you’d want to hear if you were asking for help:

‘Leave it with me. I’ll do it.’

There’s a completely different energy about this phrase – you can feel that the person saying it is capable and certain. Being more assertive as you respond positions you with other people, not just your client, as someone who’s confident of their abilities; can get things done, should be put forward for interesting projects, promotions or rate rises, and then gets them! Those seven words ‘Leave it with me. I’ll do it’ will raise your game.

Stepping up to bat with anything less leaves room for doubt. Hedging your bets with ‘might be able to’ will only put that doubt in other people’s minds about whether you will or won’t - and whether you’re capable.

When you put yourself forward to do things you become someone who offers time, help and input. To make it most effective for you, use assertive, positive language, making sure you leave as little doubt in people’s minds as possible.

Article reproduced with permission of Kay White, a communication and mentoring expert at Way Forward Solutions. Kay shows experienced - and often frustrated - professionals how to be heard and understood. Her free eBook Power Up; Speak Up; Be Heard has already been downloaded over 4,000 times.

 

18th April 2012

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