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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Speak! But Be Intentional

In our professional lives, it’s so important to be intentional and attentive about the things we say and how we say them. If we don’t, we often end up creating problems for ourselves.

Harvard did a study on MBA students, and the university found that 50% of the males negotiated a higher salary compared to 7% of the women. Why is that? To generalize, I think that women are less comfortable making big requests. We feel that if we work hard and keep our heads down, people will notice our efforts and volunteer to pay us more. That assumption is probably implicit because I think any working woman knows logically that’s not likely to happen.


Nobody's going to read your mind, so you have to be your own best advocate. You know the product that you're bringing to the table, you know your long term worth and what you bring to the company. That means that you need to communicate what it is you are expecting and looking for. Be intentional! Ask for what you want.


I’m a realist, so I’m not going to tell you that asking for more is utterly without risk. If you haven’t had any wins at your company, if you’re brand new or haven’t shown your value, it’s going to look ridiculous if you show up demanding a higher salary.

But when you're in the role and you’ve established yourself, hit your targets, and proven your value, I say go out and have the courage to advocate for yourself and ask for more. Make the big requests, you’re worth it!


When women speak in front of groups, we tend to start conversations by saying, “oh excuse me” or “I want to add” or even “I’m sorry” when they’re not actually apologizing for anything. I know society socializes women to speak this way, but we have to avoid these types of sentences because it undermines the power of anything that comes after.

There’s nothing to apologize for in making a statement, so talk with a confidence that speaks to your self-worth, your intelligence, and the value you’re bringing to the table. We need to speak candidly, concisely and courageously so that we own our time and the room. Don't apologize and lessen that level of influence.


Man, saying “no” is one of the most powerful and beautiful things in the world. Say it politely, say it professionally, but say it firmly when you need to. We all need professional boundaries in our lives the same way we need them in our personal relationships. It might be uncomfortable, but if you don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to do something, you need to be comfortable turning it down. This expresses very clearly that you value your own time, and announces that you know what you will accept and what you won't.

Sometimes I have been flat out and blunt, and said, “No, not going to happen.” If the situation doesn’t deserve an explanation, it doesn’t get one! You can do that when you're resolute, strong, confident in yourself.


Be clear, candid, and concise in your communication. Speak with power. Show up in the room unapologetically, and say “no” if you need to. People will react to you differently when you speak intentionally and deliberately.

If you're still struggling, let's connect! Put a one-on-one with me on your calendar and I can help you identify areas where you can cultivate clear and concise intentionality.

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