Banning squishy language

“I think I may consider going to Texas to visit my sisters and dad,” I said recently to my husband Jeff. What I should have said is, “I’m going to Texas to visit my sisters and Dad.” More direct. More concise. More truthful.

This pattern of speech–overly cautious, hesitant, seeking affirmation–is stereotypically feminine. Women are less assertive in their speech, communication experts tell us. We ask a question when we know the answer. I bet many of you say, “Would you like to go out to dinner tonight?” when what you mean is, “I’d like to go out to dinner tonight.”

“Weasel words”–a term my writing teacher uses–pop into our speech. Words like “perhaps,” “seems,” “possibly,” “maybe.” Are these words always a cop-out? Not necessarily. But often we insert them to soften our opinions or observations. They give us an escape hatch, should someone disagree with us.

What underlies our use of indirect and squishy language? A desire to please? Cultural conditioning? Habit?

In my case it’s probably (no, strike that word) a need for approval. I want someone to agree with me, so I communicate in a way that invites that person to say, “Yes, that’a a good idea.”

In our daily blogs, Deb and I are raising issues or situations that get in the way of growing. We’ve put ourselves on the line by revealing what our own roadblocks are. We’re committing to change.

Direct and honest communication is my intention moving forward. (Unless, of course, it’s not appropriate. No, strike that.) Let us know what you’re thinking. What’s standing in your way? What would you like to let go of?




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