I recently came across an article published by Fast Company entitled “Six Verbs That Make You Sound Weak (No Matter Your Job Title).”
While the piece is admittedly directed at those who work in an office, I couldn’t help but feel offended that my personal use of these six verbs could be making me look weak—to my husband, my children, my friends, and the members of the general public whom I encounter. The article contends that using the following words “can undercut your ability to inspire others and can suggest to listeners…that you aren’t sure of yourself.”
Here are the words:
What the hell? I use each of these words multiple times a day, and I would contend that these action words actually enable me to be successful in my relationships with my husband and children.
Let me explain.
According to this article, the trouble with “think” is that it “doesn’t sound definitive” and is a power-sapping word (whatever the f*ck that means—I guess I’ll have to think more about what they are saying to truly understand). The article notes that the action of thinking means we are “subtly suggesting that you’re still considering the position you espouse—that you’re not sure of it.”
What, may I ask, is the problem with being unsure about something? In my opinion, taking time to ponder multiple sides of an issue, stances on a topic, or options for a decision is a sign that we are intelligent enough not to be close-minded; that we are open to growth.
In marriage, if I didn’t think before I spoke or acted—which does happen on occasion—we would not be a happy couple. If I didn’t use the word “think” while sharing my opinion on any relationship matter and instead used a stronger verb, I believe my ideas would be met with a lot less understanding.
In parenting, I encourage my children to “think” all day long. “Think about what you are doing,” I tell my son. “Think about how we can remedy this situation,” I tell my daughter. And naturally, I encourage all of my children to think before they act.
Thinking is not weak. And admitting that we are thinking—well, that isn’t either.
Supposedly, when we disclose that we “need” something, we are undercutting ourselves. It contends that using the word “need” actually makes us seem less “empowered,” and that we should “project more confidence.”
I call bullish*t. My uttering the word “need” does not mean I’m helpless and dependent. Stating that we need something does not imply we are “pleading” for it, as the article suggests. There is strength and courage in someone who knows what they need and will vocalize that fact directly to those who can fulfill it.
In marriage, if I didn’t tell my husband what I needed, I would never get it. Same goes for him telling me what he needs from me.
In parenting, if I didn’t tell my children what they need to do, then nobody would do it. If they didn’t share with me their need for affection, compassion, empathy, and so on, then I would be missing the mark when it comes to raising and supporting them.
Needing is not weak. And admitting that we need something—well, that isn’t either.
The aforementioned article purports that using this word suggests to people that we are “lacking in some way.” The piece also states that verbalizing a want is an “emotional appeal,” and God forbid we show emotion, right? If I show passion, I lack conviction—at least, that is what the author of the piece is suggesting.
Once again, I disagree. I don’t believe that knowing what you want and disclosing it to others is weak.
In marriage, if we didn’t make these frowned-upon emotional appeals to our partner, then we would likely be ill-content, and our relationship would likely go right down the tubes.
In parenting, if we did not encourage the use of the verb “want,” then it would be us who would be lacking, not our children. By denying them the use of the word “want,” I would be lacking in my knowledge of their desires—for their day, their future, their life, and their ultimate happiness. There isn’t any way I am going to allow myself to be unaware of my child’s hopes and dreams for their future.
Wanting is not weak. And admitting that we want something—well, that isn’t either.
The article bashes this word for its “prayer-like quality,” which allegedly leads others to believe you lack power.
How dare we put forth the image that we are powerless in some way, in this world made for the powerful! I just vomited a little, because this thinking is so disgusting to me. The suggested alternatives we should use include “looking forward to” and “know,” as “these statements are much more empowering.”
You know what I find empowering in marriage and parenting? The fact that I have (and voice that I have) hope for all of our dreams to come true—for us as a couple, for our children, and for our family as a whole. There is nothing wrong with my child “hoping” they score a goal in their soccer game, or for me “hoping” that they have a great day at school.
Hope is not weak. And admitting that we hope for something—well, that isn’t either.
I seem to have skipped over the next weak word, “guess.” Well, guess what? I don’t freakin’ care! It is okay to be tentative; in fact, it shows that we are fluid—a good thing, in my opinion. Guessing is not lying or exaggerating, as the article suggests. Guessing is fun for everyone.
In marriage, it’s fun to guess things about your spouse. What will they enjoy doing on date night? What outfit will they most appreciate us in? It is more than okay to say to them, “My guess is that you would enjoy a night out tonight, are you ready to go?”
It is also okay to guess with our children. I can’t tell you how many times my children and I have used the word “guess” in games to pass idle time.
Guessing is not weak. And admitting that we enjoy guessing about things—well, that isn’t either.
I suppose that I will just blow the idea that using this work is a sign of weakness to shreds, just as I have done with the others. The article argues that “suppose” has a quiet presence about it, and by using it, we are showing that “you’re not really engaged.”
Well, guess what? (Crap, I used the word “guess” again…)
It is perfectly fine not to be fully engaged in something. It is also okay to be neutral sometimes. If we aren’t fully enthusiastic about something, we shouldn’t try to pretend we are.
To suppose is not weak. And admitting that we suppose things—well, that isn’t either.
I am not weak because I use these six words—and neither are you if you do.
Author: Nicole Merritt
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May