July 19, 2015 fm

Avoid Unnecessary Humbleness

Can I give you feedback?

How many times have I asked that same question! How many times have I seen that gaze of curiosity blended with uneasiness! How many times…

Now it was my turn. I looked at Adrian. A blend of curiosity and uneasiness in my face.

Sure, shoot!

Well, one thing you do, I think it drags down your authority – unnecessarily.

Adrian had my full attention now.

Yeah, after demonstrating something, often you’d say, ‘This was just freestyling’. This, for me, is unnecessary. You make yourself smaller without a reason. It hurts your ethos. Don’t say it!

This was just freestyling – instantly, I realized that Adrian was absolutely right. I often say this. After thanking him for his honest and constructive feedback, for the rest of the break, I thought about why I added this unnecessary appendix.

Wasn’t I sure about the quality of my impromptu rhetorical demonstrations? Did I want to keep the emergency door open in case someone challenged my demonstration? Whatever it was, This was just freestyling is a message reducing statement. Exactly what I teach my participants to avoid.

Message reducing statements and expressions – message reducers – teem up with our everyday vocabulary. I learned that we use them to come across as less pretentious and more humble. Guess, try, could or, like here, the word just – we avoid absolute statements. In this sense we’re all lawyers.

When you use message reducers, you weaken your message. When you avoid them, your message gains strength. As simple as that! Hence, avoid unnecessary humbleness and throw those message reducers overboard.

Thanks to Adrian I took another step on that mountain without a peak. Next time I do an impromptu demonstration in one of my trainings, for sure, I’m not going to add, This was just freestyling. 

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