As a woman in the workplace, communicating is tough. One exclamation point, emoji, or wayward “um” can send my professional credibility right down the drain. That’s why I’m removing “sorry” from my vocabulary once and for all. I refuse to apologize for every dumb little thing — like forgetting to respond to an email, or poisoning Janice slowly over several months in order to steal her job.
At first, I felt that censoring my words was a negative thing. I felt it would deaden my personal expression while at the same time giving my colleagues a set of arbitrary criteria with which to harshly judge me. I felt it would distract me from using my brain cells on things that really matter, like hitting my revenue goal for Q3, and making sure Janice dies of what appear to be natural causes in Q4.
It turns out I was completely wrong on all counts, because a woman should never start a sentence with “I felt.”
I’m cutting out upspeak, too. You know, that thing where the ends of your statements rise like questions? And you sound like a valley girl, unsure of your own thoughts? Well, no more. I’ve stopped saying “Janice: Green tea?” and upgraded to a stronger “Janice: Green tea.” It’s amazing what people will drink when you project a little confidence!
I’m sorry for that exclamation point.
Wait… no, I’m not.
I’ve also said goodbye to low, croaky vocal fry. Whether I’m in a client presentation, an internal check-in, or the interrogation room, I sing in classical opera style for maximum volume and glottal control. Even when the detectives mansplain how they found a bottle of cyanide in the break room with my fingerprints all over it, I don’t allow my voice to weaken. I take a deep diaphragmatic breath and belt: “Bring me a lawyer. A lawyer with a vagina.”
I certainly don’t ask forgiveness from Janice’s friend and relatives at the memorial service. The last thing I need is for them to look down on me as incompetent, “girlish,” and admitting guilt to a felony. Instead, I look them dead in the eye, give them my firmest handshake, and thunder in my big opera voice: “I had nothing to do with Janice’s death, and this PowerPoint will explain why.” I don’t refer to any notes during my presentation, either, because I want to look like I know what I’m talking about, which I do, so why don’t you get off my back, already?
I hope I didn’t come across as aggressive just then.
I hope saying “just” just now doesn’t cause you to rethink my professional qualifications.
I hope my use of the phrase “I hope” doesn’t make me seem ineffectual.
Lest you think I’m wasting energy in the impossible pursuit of verbal perfection, let me remind you that it’s helpful beyond the office in everyday life. When I’m on the stand, for example, the judge seems to appreciate my straightforward description of using the pistol to wrap up Project Janice on time and under budget. Like I told him, I was only doing what any capable male manager would do.
Some women are so dumb, they don’t understand how important it is to put in the effort to improve your speech. Take the female prosecutor on my case, for example. She has no idea that every time she says “like” during her cross-examination, she’s basically taking a giant shit all over her argument. What self-respecting woman would take a giant shit at work?
Janice, that’s who.
It’s funny. Now that I’m sitting at Janice’s desk, doing Janice’s job, wearing Janice’s Spanx, my communication skills are ten times better than they were before. People listen when I talk now, and nobody dares question my authority. I guess the old adage is right: all you need to get rid of those pesky vocal tics is the confidence of unproven murder surging through your remorseless veins.
What can I say? I’m a powerful modern businesslady, and that’s nothing to apologize for.