what not to say (and how to say something else) to help improve your self confidence and leadership authority

Imposter Syndrome

… but not as you know it … coming from a completely different angle to anything I think you might have thought about before.   I want to share how one teeny tiny insy winsy word you’re probably using out of habit, has the amazing power to cut you off at the knees and totally undermine whatever it is you’re saying or talking about.

One small word – four different situations when you probably don’t even realise you’re using it + examples of how to swap to a statement more empowering and powerful (without being bossy or aggressive).

Vet Clinic Employer of Choice Accreditation

A world first (as far as we can tell) initiative from VetStaff – we’re looking for pilot veterinary clinics to be part of our Beta Launch. 

You know how finding and keeping good veterinary professionals right now is hard… there’s always the fear another clinic is going to poach your star performers…?

Here at VetStaff we’ve designed a programme to help vet clinics – anywhere in the world – recruit and retain their star performers.

Not only does it help you retain the star performers already on your team, it also helps make recruiting easier because as a participating clinic, you’ll receive the VetStaff Seal of Accreditation

Having this Seal instantly identifies your clinic as a VetStaff Employer of Choice.   Because it’s VetStaff polishing your clinic’s halo from the outside and we can back up our claim – it’s not you on the inside beating your chest about how great you are – our third-party endorsement gives your clinic the VetStaff Employer of Choice Accredited tick.   

Right now, we’re launching our pilot programme and if you’d like to be considered as one of our beta clinics, please let me know by sending me an email to julie@vetstaff.co.nz.  

If you want to participate, the process is very simple and totally affordable – it’s less than the cost of an average small bitch spay.  

We’ll ask for some proof of verification – which is easy to get and that’s it!

Easy Peasy! 

Because very few clinics right now are fully staffed, it means most clinics are competing for the same high calibre staff.  Every little thing you can do to identify your clinic as being more attractive to work out, will make a difference. 

If your clinic’s not recognised as a VetStaff Employer of Choice, you’ll miss out to the clinic down the road that is.   

Today, it’s the clinics that are retaining and rewarding their staff in meaningful ways that get to recruit the best staff.   

If you’re not doing this in a way that’s easily recognised and verified, you’ll miss out to those clinics that are.

Being recognised as a VetStaff Employer of Choice Vet Clinic is something to be proud of.   

Imagine having the edge when it comes to recruiting high performers.

Imagine having a waiting list of high performers who want to work at your clinic.   

Because this is what can happen once the word starts to get out that your clinic is an Employer of Choice! Imagine how many headaches you’ll save when it comes to hiring new staff!

VetStaff’s Seals of Participation are a completely independent and recognised way for your clinic to stand out as a Vet Clinic Employer of Choice.

If this sounds like something you’d like for your clinic then email Julie South today to start the ball rolling at your clinic.  And just to clarify – this is designed to help clinics who’re already clients of ours – ones where we’re doing the recruiting AND for those that want to DIY their own recruitment. 

You don’t have to be an existing VetStaff client to participate.   If you want to DIY your own recruitment then this new initiative is perfect for you.   To find out more email julie@vetstaff.co.nz.

VetStaff’s two core beliefs

Everyone and everything we do at VetStaff is underpinned by two core beliefs.  

The first is that we believe all veterinary professionals deserve to work at a vet clinic job of their dreams where they’re respected and valued.  

The second is that all vet clinics deserve to have engaged and motivated employees working for them who love Monday mornings.  

If that sounds like the type of recruitment agency you’d like to work with, then please check us out at vetstaff.co.nz 

How to share an opinion

Let’s start with talking about when you’re sharing an opinion, for example at a team meeting.  

Riders and expressions like “That’s just my opinion” and “Just my two cents worth” can gravely undermine what you’re saying.

For example, a new grad vet or new grad nurse might tell their lead vet or head nurse something and then suffix “but that’s just my opinion” or prefix it with “it’s just my opinion but ……..

There are two things going on with each of those statements.

The first is the “but” – but negates everything around it.   We all know that “yes, but…..” means ‘no’.

When you couple “but” with “just” you’re basically saying you don’t expect to be taken seriously.   After all, it’s just your opinion.

You could also swap “just” for “only” – it’s only my opinion but……

It’s just my opinion but……….

The word “just” carries dead weight that drags down and weakens all the other words surrounding it.

To sound more confident when voicing your opinion, you drop the entire clause of buts, only, just and swap the weak expression “I think” with the stronger “I believe.”

When you do this, you’ll sound more credible and confident. 

For example, that sentence would then be:   “I believe we should …………. Whatever

When you want to add to a discussion

What about those times when you have something to add to a discussion…?

For people who’re insecure or lacking self-belief, they’ll kick of their sentences with “…….. if I could just add something……..”

Now, while the goal is probably to sound collaborative, using “just” in combination with a phrase suggesting that you’re “adding” to the previous speaker’s comment, makes it seem like you’re clinging to the other person’s coattails, rather than putting forth your own idea.

Sure, your comment might be an addition to the conversation, however, it’s your independent thought and therefore worthy of separate consideration.

And preceding it with an expression like “if I could” makes you sound like you’re asking for permission to speak and someone who’s lacking in confidence. 

Sadly, other people won’t take what you’ve got to say very seriously if you sound a bit wishy-washy.

The solution is to eliminate the phrase, “If I could just add something,”.   Instead, get straight to the point you’re making.

Of course, if you feel you need to, or want to bridge to something that was said earlier, rather than barge straight on in with your idea, instead reference what the previous speaker said – briefly – and introduce your point of view. 

A word of caution – when referring to a previous statement, make sure you present your idea as an independent thought.

Those “difficult” conversations

What about the times when you need to give someone negative feedback – in other words it’s one of “those” difficult conversations where you might feel like you’re criticising them.

Or you’re on the receiving end of negative feedback and you feel like you need to defend your position…? 

If we’re lacking self confidence and/or we don’t get much experience in having ‘difficult conversations’, we’ll be worried the other person won’t like us because of our criticism … so we’ll want to downplay, to minimise our opinion so as not to upset them … not to hurt them…

Starting a ‘negative feedback conversation’ with words like “I just mean . . .” can make you sound both weak and/or defensive.

If giving negative feedback is difficult for you, it’s easy to fall into the trap of minimising what you’re saying, so the other person isn’t hurt.   By you.

For example, let’s say you’re the newly appointed Lead Vet or Head Nurse who’s required to give constructive feedback to someone after a procedure that didn’t quite go according to plan.  

Let’s say it involved taking dental xrays that took forever and then didn’t produce a particularly clear set of radiographs …    

An insecure, non-confident person might say , I just want to ask you how you thought taking those radiographs went…?”

There’s that word “just” again – “I just want to ask” is a weak opening statement and undermines and diminishes any attempt you might make to offer clear guidance down the track. 

The way you kick off this sentence also gives the impression that it’s just a small question … a trivial by-the-way-type question…. And not a serious question and conversation that deserves a serious answer and discussion.

Instead, a more powerful statement – for both you and the other person – could be to say something like

“Those dental x-rays you took before weren’t useable.  Let’s explore how you can improve on your [whatever] for next time.”

That sounds more confident and assertive, without being aggressive or demeaning.  It also opens up a way forward for improvement and progression.

When humility comes across as lacking in confidence

And finally, the fourth “just” – when you’re trying to sound humble.

We’ve all heard people use the phrase “I’m just the [junior nurse], [new grad], I’m just the receptionist”

Or I’m “only” the …………

When people refer to themselves this way, they’re attempting to pass the buck or downplay their importance in a certain decision or situation:

These self-deprecating expressions – with “just” (or “only”) as their centrepieces – may be intended to offer context or strike a note of humility but wind up suggesting a lack of pride.

Let’s get one thing straight – no one is ever “just” someone or something!

You are not just a new grad or just a receptionist.  Or just a stay-at-home-mum!

It’s taken you years of studying to be that new grad – don’t weaken it by preceding it with “just”.  

Likewise, with being a receptionist – there’s no just involved – you’ve answered the phone hundreds, maybe thousands of times, under pressure, whereby you can still answer with a smile and sound unflappable and fully in control.    Don’t discount or demean your ability to do that, because not everyone can! 

And if you describe yourself as “just a stay at home mum” please! Being a parent is a privilege!  Own it with pride!

You play an important role in your world – in your clinic and in your life – stand tall and own it because there’s only one of you!   If you’ve been listening to my podcasts for a while, you may notice that I sign off in a certain way – with a very deliberate invitation for you to be the most fantabulous version of you you can be!  I want you to be more than “just” you – I want you to be fantabulously you!

Break the habit

Those are the four examples of “just” you might be using out of habit:

#1 – drop the “just your opinion” and “just your two cents’ worth”

#2 – if I could just add something………….

#3 – kicking off those difficult conversations with “I just want to say…” and

#4 – I’m ‘just a………’


Pressure is not Stress – 4 steps to be resilient in disruptive times – White Paper by Nick Petrie

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