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10 Phrases You Should Swallow When Talking To Strong Women

10 Phrases You Should Swallow When Talking To Strong Women

In this day and age, it is hard to believe that strong women are still paid less than men for doing the same work, they are more likely to be the victims of violence, especially perpetrated by someone they know and they are less likely to hold positions of power in business and politics in comparison to their male counterparts. For many, feminism is still a dirty word despite the movement being responsible for the emancipation of half the human population. We still have a long way to go. We can all contribute to a more equal world simply by being more aware and thinking about how we value women. We can start by watching the things we say to them directly and whether you are a man or a woman yourself, we have all internalized sexism and are likely to participate in common faux pas.

Here are 10 phrases you should swallow when talking to strong women:

1. Have you lost weight?

Although probably intended as a compliment and many strong women will say this to each other, drawing attention to a woman’s body shape by commenting on it is never okay. It implies that your approval matters; it doesn’t. A woman’s body and what it does or looks like is nobody’s business but her own. She doesn’t need your endorsement to look a particular way and you are better off commenting on her strength, her kindness or her success than on what she looks like. Women face enough pressure to adhere to a fabricated ideal of beauty.

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2. Smile, you’ll look prettier

This usually occurs on the street by strangers after they have whistled or cat called. It also happens at parties, in bars or anywhere that unwanted male attention is rejected. It implies that the woman is surly or unhappy within herself, instead of responding to the unwanted and intrusive attention. She doesn’t have to smile. She doesn’t have to be pretty. She doesn’t have to do anything in order to please you or make you comfortable.

3. When are you going to get married/have a baby/have another baby?

Inviting yourself into a woman’s relationship or her uterus is a no-no. When you ask a woman when she is going to get married or find a mate and settle down, you are telling her that she is incomplete or inadequate on her own and needs another person to validate her. Similarly, asking a woman about her reproductive status is essentially asking about her menstrual cycle, her sexual activity, and ignoring her right to privacy. For all you know she might have faced challenges such as infertility or miscarriage and she is not obligated to discuss these things with you upon your inquiry. This information should be volunteered by her, not extracted by you.

Also, she may not want to do either; get married or have children and implying she does is imposing your desires on her life not hers. Whatever strong women decide to do is not of your concern. If they choose to share that information, by all means share in their joy or tragedy, otherwise wonder in silence.

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4. You look tired

She probably is. Strong women work hard, but don’t tell her in not so many words that she looks haggard. Again, by commenting on her appearance, you are measuring her based on a superficial ideal not on her real worth. It is often an attempt to express empathy, it’s just misguided. Maybe instead of telling her what you think she looks like, ask her how she is feeling? What has been happening in her life? If she wants to disclose her troubles, she will. Better still, treat her to a leisurely lunch or a nice massage. She will definitely appreciate it.

5. Don’t get so upset

Telling a woman that she is overreacting is demeaning. It diminishes her feelings and dismisses her ideas and reactions. This is particularly condescending if she is upset because of something you did or said. You may be truly concerned for her and don’t want to see her unhappy or angry, but validating her feelings and working through a disagreement or a bad experience together is more valuable. Website Power of Positivity suggests saying something like “You seem very passionate about this” or “What do you think we should do about it?” This will ensure the situation does not escalate and tells her that she is entitled to feel what she wants, her feelings are warranted, but you don’t want to see her hurting.

6. It’s not lady like to swear/sit like that/dress like that

Pardon? No. Lady schmady. Strong women can curse. Language is just that. It is not a measure of her morality and she can express herself as she pleases. We need to stop telling women how to speak. She can sit however she wants and take up as much space as she wants (yes even if she wants to sit with her legs open; men do). She can wear whatever she wants; as much or as little. She can wear a bikini or a burka and what she wears does not determine how she deserves to be treated. Australian Feminist writer Clementine Ford says “We deny women any agency when it comes to their clothing. We assume that if they dress in particular ways they either secretly desire unwanted attention, or that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re dressed like walking billboards for sex and therefore need other people to carefully guide them through the rocky shores of life.” Daily Life.

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7. Be careful going out by yourself at night

Whenever we hear of a woman being physically attacked, it almost always follows the same line of inquiry; where was she, what time of day was it, who was she with, what was she wearing. This is called victim blaming and is a product of rape culture. Telling women how to behave to avoid being attacked is reprehensible because it completely absolves the perpetrator of wrong doing. Women have every right to occupy this world wherever and whenever they see fit and although it is unfortunate that women need to be aware of their own safety and take precautions; don’t worry, they know. We simply need to change the public discussion about it. We need to stop telling women that they are responsible for the wrong doing of others and focus instead on telling people who attack women to stop. doing. it.

8. Is it that time of the month?

As a society, we don’t like talking about menstruation; at least not in a positive and constructive way. We instead stigmatize it as a time when otherwise strong women are irrational and uncomfortable. Asking a woman if she has her period is an implication that she is being unreasonable or unnecessarily emotional. That she is somehow not functioning normally and needs sympathy and will not be taken seriously.  It’s time to stop demeaning and undermining women based on some outdated notion that their physical differences to men equal inferiority or requires subordination.

Strong women are reclaiming their menstruation. (Caution: Explicit Language) This smash poem by Dominique Christina is outstanding and every woman, every mother to a daughter needs to watch this and share it. Women are also having period parties these days, celebrating their daughters’ first time as something to be cherished and be unashamed about. So beware. You no longer have permission or credibility to shame a woman about bleeding.

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9. Women can be so bitchy

The idea that men have camaraderie between them while strong women compete is untrue. Men are just as competitive among themselves as women and women can be incredibly supportive and affectionate towards one another. This statement is an attempt to divide and conquer. It relies on flimsy and superficial anecdotes and intends to cause disunity and conflict in order to obtain control. It’s untrue and sexist.

10. There is no wine or chocolate in the house

Never ever say this to a woman. It is just plain hateful.

It is not that difficult to hold your tongue and to become educated about gender equality. It isn’t fickle or unwarranted to expect respect and it isn’t an overreaction to recognize the historical oppression that women have experienced. So next time you are having a conversation with a woman; it’s simple. Just think before you speak. If you aren’t sure, don’t say it. Be kind, always. And if you say something offensive – apologize and learn from it.

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Featured photo credit: Walking Around Town/Kris Krug via imcreator.com

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Diane Koopman

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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