I declare today Declarative Statement Day.

Got something to say?

You’re in luck, because today is the day to say it.

I’m declaring today Declarative Statement Day.

A day just to say whatever you gotta say.

I admit, saying things outright doesn’t come easily to me. Sometimes it has just plain hurt.

This may be a generalization, but I’ll hazard a guess that if you’re human (and especially if you’re female), this pattern may come up for you, too.

It sneaks into conversation in the slyest of ways.

For example, conversations about date night in our home used to go like this:

Me: “Honey, would you like to get Mexican tonight?”

Honey: “Are you saying that you would like to get Mexican tonight?”

In fact, that’s EXACTLY what I was saying without realizing that I was shaping my statement of my desire into a question – a question about what someone else wanted.

Wow.

I looked deeper and found that I was mitigating what I wanted in ways both large and small. Not only was I couching my dinner cravings in questions, but I was also letting my deepest, biggest desires die in my throat.

I know I’m not alone in having this pattern. I’ve observed it in others, too, and the funny thing I discovered was that those of us who speak this way can interpret it, too. I know what the questions really mean. I get the understatements. I’m hip to the subtext, the between the lines.

Perhaps we’re just trying to be gentle. Perhaps we’re unaware of our conditioning.

It’s no secret that assertiveness and aggressiveness get confused, but there is no violence in simply stating what you want.

Not speaking your desires is a violence to yourself.

It’s dangerous.

Not only for your dreams and wants, but for your creativity.

If I can’t say what I want for dinner, then how can I possibly put a bold brushstroke on the page?

If I can’t name how I’d like to spend an afternoon, then how can I lay down the lines of a brave poem?

If I can’t state my dreams out loud, then how can I create the framework to make them happen?

I’ve heard that how we do one thing is how we do everything.

That’s why I’ve declared today Declarative Statement Day.

A day to pay close attention to our language. To how we put ourselves into the world through our words.

A day to declare, state, say our thoughts and desires in ways that are bold, solid, fearless, and free.

I declare today Declarative Statement Day.

What are you going to say?

8 thoughts on “I declare today Declarative Statement Day.

  1. I really like your comment about being “hip to the subtext.” Because, while I get what you are saying, maybe there’s a part of not making declarative statements that works for women especially. Just because women often speak like this, does that have mean that they’re less confident than males?

    I really loved this NY Times article on “Young Women Setting Linguistic Trends.” Especially what they had to say about “uptalking” which is making a declarative statement sound like a question:

    Several studies have shown that uptalk can be used for any number of purposes, even to dominate a listener. In 1991, Cynthia McLemore, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that senior members of a Texas sorority used uptalk to make junior members feel obligated to carry out new tasks. (“We have a rush event this Thursday? And everyone needs to be there?”)

    Dr. Eckert of Stanford recalled a study by one of her students, a woman who worked at a Jamba Juice and tracked instances of uptalking customers. She found that by far the most common uptalkers were fathers of young women. For them, it was “a way of showing themselves to be friendly and not asserting power in the situation,” she said.

    Here is the entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/science/young-women-often-trendsetters-in-vocal-patterns.html?pagewanted=1&_r=4

    Thanks for this post Maeg! Language is so fascinating!

    1. Sarah! Thank you for bringing up such fascinating points.

      I’ve heard of uptalking before, too–and I both use it and experience it on a daily basis.

      Sometimes it’s the perfect way to approach a certain situation (like delegating to a coworker, for example). Sometimes it traps me (asking questions of my kids, for example, when a declarative is definitely better!) and sometimes, when others use it, in confuses me (what do they REALLY mean?)

      Also, we’re a social species, so I can see why we would have all these linguistic tools for varied approaches, to soften our approach. Plus we have so many other sensory cues that clue us into what is happening beyond the language.

      I also can’t help but wonder…is something like uptalk more effective BECAUSE a more direct communication, especially from women, is culturally frowned upon? Does it save us from losing our point in accusations of aggressiveness?

      I also think it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is “hip to the subtext”–my husband certainly wasn’t!–and that stating our desires simply and out loud is a vital skill to have. Even, for me, just so I can hear myself.

      Thank you Sarah for sharing. Brilliant as usual. You’ve really got my mind spinning this morning!

      xoxo Maeg

  2. One of the important lessons I’ve learned lately is to say what you need. Reading Brene Brown’s Ordinary Courage, she taught me that you have to love yourself enough to speak up & ask for the love that you need (or whatever else you want). People can’t read your mind & don’t know what you are going through/feeling, so it’s up to you to communicate what you need. Thanks for the gentle reminder to be declarative! Have a fab weekend!

  3. I can relate to confusing when to use what type of language and what situations are best for being assertive and when it is best to let the conversation feel more like a conversation. I think when you are speaking about being creative, declaring yourself is one of the most important steps to take. I still struggle with fully realizing and believing that I can be a successful artist. I think a declarative statement is absolutely necessary in that type of situation. I admire that you are aware of yourself enough and humble enough to admit that you are still working on yourself. I admire that. Thanks.

    -Lauren

  4. I love this, as I love all of your posts. This hit home with me a lot, especially “If I can’t state my dreams out loud, then how can I create the framework to make them happen?”

    I think I’m going through a similar line of thinking, and I’ve been changing lately. This requires a great deal of self-awareness. Kudos to you!

  5. Maeg – this post comes at such a perfect time for me. Thank you!

    After workign with a coach for awhile, she pointed out how I’ve been wishy-washy about speaking my own desires, and she recommended that I reframe every request or preference with the words “I want…”

    Just hearing myself say “I want pizza tonight,” “I want better qualty paper on these cards,” “I want you to come with me to my sister’s wedding,” “I want…I want…I want…” has transformed my relationship to my desires.

    First, now I have to really think about what I want, which has helped me clarify exactly what I’m feeling. But even better, the people in my life now know how they can make me happy and don’t have to try to read my mind. My relationships (personal & with clients) have markedly improved, just by using my special-secret phrase.

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