Author Topic: Boss says I'm too polite #24 (progress) #39 (info + update)  (Read 5974 times)

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Isilleke

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Boss says I'm too polite #24 (progress) #39 (info + update)
« on: January 17, 2014, 04:41:16 PM »
Ever since I started my job my boss is telling me that I'm too polite and that I have to strengthen my voice since my weak voice makes me seem like a pushover.

I feel that it would be better to make my voice louder (although I have to admit I have no clue how), but as to the politeness I strongly disagree. Yes, he gets them to do much more than I'm able too, but there is also the small fact that he has worked with them for over 4 years and I've only been there 2+ months. He says that they won't respect me since they aren't used to be talked to in that way. (emphasis is his) I don't believe this, but maybe he's right?

Another thing is, that I'm trying out for the military (got through the first round, fingers crossed!) and he's always telling me that these are things that won't work there either. Is this true? Do I really need to toughen up my language and my voice?

I work with workmen if that makes any difference.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 03:29:59 PM by Isilleke »

Venus193

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 04:48:55 PM »
What exactly does "too polite" mean?  If it means you speak grammatically and don't use censorable language he's off his rocker.

If you need to speak more loudly, that can be done. 

http://www.wikihow.com/Talk-Loudly

camlan

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 04:55:57 PM »
If you seem "like a pushover," it's probably a combination of things. The words you use, your tone of voice, the volume with which you speak and your overall attitude.

You don't have to start being rude. But you can cut down or eliminate the number of times you say "please" and the like. You can stand with a more authoritarian stance. Speak more firmly, instead of more loudly.

There's "Could you please move this heavy crate over to the loading dock when you get a moment, please?"

compared to:

"Bob, move this crate to the loading dock as soon as you can."

Both are polite. The second one is more authoritative and firm and shows that you know you are the boss and that you expect Bob to simply do what you've told him without questioning. Even if you don't feel sure of yourself, you have to act as though you do.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Library Dragon

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 04:57:12 PM »
You can speak politely and with authority (here's one article written specifically for women http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/10/26/how-to-speak-with-authority-hillary-clinton-michelle-obama/).

One trick I learned was to take a deep breath to relax my jaw and lower the register of my voice.  I can speak loudly, but in a deeper voice.  It carries more authority. 

I know you're outside the USA and my experience is in the US Army, but politeness is very much valued in the military.  Speaking respectfully to others of higher or lower rank is expected.   

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shhh its me

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2014, 05:08:24 PM »
  Can you give a few examples?

You can be so "polite" you give away all your authority.   " I appreciate you're busy today but when you get a moment could you please ......?"  that sounds like a choice to me.  I'd like vs I need .  Can you do this ? vs Do this.

There are times when you don't say please " could you pass me the scalpel   , please " comes to mind. I had a boss once who was a VP and during a meeting with the bank financing the project started making everyone's coffee, that was being too polite.  Because they were on a construction site , she could have either directed someone to make coffees or let everyone get their own but doing the "Do you take cream and sugar?" and serving the coffee routine diminished her to the point the owner stopped her.

bah12

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2014, 05:20:42 PM »
I imagine that by saying you are "too polite", your boss is trying to nicely explain that you do not project the confidence and authority you need to get clients, coworkers, etc to respect you and listen to you.  While I don't want to pretend what kind of events are leading him to say this to you specifically, some examples might be saying "Would you mind doing this for me and can you tell me how long it will take you." when you really should be saying "do this by 5pm today". In business, sometimes, we have to be tougher and more direct than maybe what we prefer to be in our social lives.  In addition, you're often going to run into people who will buldoze you to get what they want.  You have to be able to deal with those people and push back without worrying about how "politely" you might come accross.  At the end of the day, it's a balancing act.  You don't want to be rude, but you definitely need to direct, loud, and 'bossy.'

And yes, this is very true of the military.  Even in peacetime operations, the military functions as it might on the 'battlefield', at least when it comes to working climate.  While there has been a lot of improvement in how the lower ranks are treated and shown respect by their leaders, there's a lot more 'direct orders' than there are times when people are going to stop and make sure they haven't said anything that upset you. 

I would talk to your boss and try to get some clarifications on what he's saying and some suggestions on what you can do to improve in his eyes.  It might be that your ethics don't match his or the company you are working for, or it could just be that you need to learn how to project more authority. 

artk2002

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2014, 05:26:59 PM »
As far as the voice is concerned, take a basic acting class. It can also help you with how you come across physically. You should be able to find one at your local adult education center, junior college, university extension, etc. The tools of the actor have a big overlap with the tools of a public speaker. Even if you don't stand up and give presentations, learning how can give you a boost of confidence. I don't know if they have Toast Masters in your country, but if they do, join your local group.

The other thing to do is to examine how you phrase things. As Shh It's Me and Camlan pointed out, giving people choices when they don't really have one feels "nice" but really comes off as weak. Remember this: The other people don't have to like you, they just have to do what you're asking. Or they have to listen to what you're saying. Or whatever is the situation. If you worry about them becoming upset, then you've already lost.

Sadly, women in modern society are socialized to be "nice", to be pleasers. That's likely what's coming through and being noticed by your boss. It's very hard to get rid of, but I'm sure that you can do it with some determination.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

veronaz

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2014, 05:56:32 PM »
Maybe “too polite” isn’t the correct term.

There is nothing wrong with being polite (Please, Thank you, Excuse me)  and using good manners; it’s expected and appreciated in a civil society.

But if you have a soft voice, you need to speak louder and stronger so everyone can hear you.  They shouldn’t have to keep saying “Excuse me?  Pardon?  What did you say?"  Speaking with a strong voice is not rude.

Also, do you preface lots of statements with “Sorry, but……”  If this is the case, work on not apologizing so much when there is nothing to be sorry for.  It makes a person seem weak and timid.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 08:58:01 PM by veronaz »

LEMon

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2014, 08:10:52 PM »
Perhaps tape recording yourself giving directions might help you hear what your boss hears.  It may be tone (the up tone at the end of a sentence that can make a direct request almost a question), the wording (too much softening of what you are asking rather than directness), rather than volume.

I would think that if it is you being too cautious and apologetic, this will be a problem in a direct order type situation such as the military. 

My suspicion (based only on my own character) is that you may ask as we might ask a friend, rather than how one would give directions that need to be followed.  I would have this problem.

veronaz

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2014, 09:13:03 PM »
Quote
Sadly, women in modern society are socialized to be "nice", to be pleasers. That's likely what's coming through and being noticed by your boss.

Things are not as bad as they used to be, but women are still conditioned to be “nice” and often they fear that disagreeing with someone or saying the wrong thing might upset people.  Well, being upset sometimes is a fact of life and people need to deal with it.

I know someone who always says “I’m sorry” prior to stating a different opinion.  That, in addition to her soft almost inaudible soft voice gets annoying.  But she says she's just trying to be "nice".

TootsNYC

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2014, 01:27:05 AM »
Don't get louder; pitch your voice lower, and slow down a tiny bit. Think of your voice as rising out of your gut.

you need "authoritative," not loud. Strong isn't  necessarily loud. And of course you don't want to shout, so you'll want to project more; again, think of your voice as rising not from your through but from the middle of your chest perhaps.
http://www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/delivery/project-your-voice/

http://www.tipsontalking.com/2012/03/how-to-project-your-voice/
Quote
Instead, imagine that the inside of your throat and mouth are large, as large as the room you’re speaking in.  That will cause all the muscles around the inside of your throat to pull away, just as you do when you are yawning.  The bigger the space inside, the bigger the voice outside.
*NEVER* let the end of your sentence rise, w/ that "I'm a question" inflection.

Also watch for the speech patterns everyone is pointing out.

You could try phrases like, "this box needs to be over there; please make that happen" if you don't feel comfortable ordering people around. Then you're not being the bossy one, particularly.

And watch your boss, and listen to him. How does he act w/ the folks you both give directions to? What phrases does he use? Does he use a quick cadence? Practice copying him, then let it slide into your own voice eventually.

Iris

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2014, 04:22:29 AM »
One thing I have found works is to replace "please" with "thanks".

Rather than "Oh, Bob, can you move the crates please?" which could be interpreted as a request, "Bob, move those crates thanks" maintains some politeness but *assumes* that the action will be carried out.

I also tend to have a high pitched voice. When I want to sound more authoritarian I stop, take a breath, and deliberately pitch my voice slightly lower. Not so I sound like I'm trying to impersonate a man, just speaking more from the diaphragm so that I'm at the lower end of my own natural register.

And POD to the idea of taping yourself.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

Steve

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2014, 05:07:09 AM »
I would like to offer another point of view here:

It might be that the Boss is only used to male management styles. When a woman all of a sudden comes in and starts managing a team, he will not understand her style at all. He will only see the differences, and conclude that "it will not work at all".
Studies show that female management styles are equally effective.

Maybe, instead of changing yourself after 2 months (so you have not been able to prove anything there yet), you need to give yourself some time (and convince your boss to give you some time) and just see if the  staff will respond to your manner of approaching them.



Isilleke

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2014, 09:50:37 AM »
Thanks everyone!

I believe in my case he's aiming at my being too cautious and apologetic. I do tend to say a lot more "could you" and "thanks for doing this/that", while the rest of my team is more "you will work".
I'll need to work on that and will look into an acting class as well, since that could only benefit me!

It's the second time he said it to be honest and the first time I was just thinking "I don't want to be rude", but I see now that wasn't what he was pointing at.

shhh its me

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Re: Boss says I'm too polite
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2014, 11:56:02 AM »
Thanks everyone!

I believe in my case he's aiming at my being too cautious and apologetic. I do tend to say a lot more "could you" and "thanks for doing this/that", while the rest of my team is more "you will work".
I'll need to work on that and will look into an acting class as well, since that could only benefit me!

It's the second time he said it to be honest and the first time I was just thinking "I don't want to be rude", but I see now that wasn't what he was pointing at.

Have you been using the actual words "thank for for doing *insert task*"  try just "thanks"  you'll still feel polite.   Think of it like this "could you please pass me the salt"   " thank you, for passing the salt"   its just a bit too much.     "Could" is a question , its how you start if you're asking a favor.