Verbal Self Sabatoge - How Women Shoot Themselves in the Professional Foot

Kirstin Carey

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In our attempt to make others feel welcome to voice their opinions, we ladies use little techniques called: preempting and postempting.

A standard, dictionary definition of preempt is “to take the place of; displace. " Therefore, when we preempt our own statements we displace or override the validity of what we really mean.

For example,

1) “You may not agree with this, but I think we're going to reach our sales goals for this quarter. "

2) “You'll probably think I'm crazy, but my ecommendation is to invest in XTS Telcoms. "

3) “Don't take this the wrong way, but you should consult with a presentation skills expert before you deliver another speech. "

Postempt is not listed in the dictionary, though it definitely has meaning. If preempt is something said before a statement that displaces the meaning of the statement, then postempt is something said after the statement which invalidates what was meant.

For example,

1) “Give blood. Well, if you think it's a good idea, you should give blood. "

2) “Our organization does not have the capital to continue with the buyout of ACME Consulting Company, unless I misunderstood the financial reports. "

3) “Adding another nurse to the staff will help reduce the time patients wait to see the doctor, don't you think?"

Pre- and postempting are often attempts to make others feel more comfortable about voicing their own opinions - especially if it is a conflicting opinion.

Unfortunately those who express self-doubt - especially in a business setting - are perceived to be weak and unsure. When I began writing this book, I interviewed a variety of women to find out what their biggest communication challenge was.

Overwhelmingly, the most common response was getting others to take their ideas seriously or not getting credit for coming up with a new idea. Women said the most frustrating thing was when a man would seemingly come up with the same idea and was congratulated for the new concept while the woman was left without credit for saying it originally.

Pre- and postempting and other self-doubting language may be the primary reason other people are getting credit for our ideas. If we sound unsure, we are overlooked. Those who are confident in their ideas are taken seriously and remembered when credit is due.

Kirstin Carey is a consultant, award winning speaker, and author of “PowHERful Communications for Women Who Want to be Heard. " As a woman business owner, Kirstin fully understands what is necessary for women to be successful entrepreneurs. To find out how you too can love your business everyday and live the entrepreneurial life you want, visit


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