A Little Post About Minimising… (see what I did there?!)


READ TIME: 4m 45s


A fair bit has been written about the ways we minimise, drawing our attention to: 

  • How often we apologise when we speak

  • How we apologise without speaking through our tone, postures or gestures

  • How we use words like ‘just’ and ‘only’ in meetings to somehow make ourselves, or what we are saying, less in some way, especially if we are uncomfortable with our status (real or perceived) .

  • How we play down our achievements, our intelligence, and even our outfits!

A fair bit has also been written about the impact of this on ourselves, on our personal brands, on our effectiveness, and on others around us when we do it. 

So rather than say more about what minimising is, not least because it will be different for all of you, and I’m pretty sure you know what it looks and sounds like for you; this is a post about noticing. Because one of the trickier things about the minimising I do, and my clients do, is that we generally don’t realise we are doing it.


  • Am I choosing and using the words I really want to use?

  • Is there an unconscious apology, a don’t-look-at-me or a minimising of myself or my achievements leaking through the words I choose or the way I speak?

  • And if there is, what’s the impact of this?

  • And more importantly, is it the impact I want?


If you have a coach, do they let you know when they hear you minimising?  If not, and you’d like some insight into this, ask them to reflect back when they hear you say or do something that could be an unconscious minimise so that you can work out whether it actually is, and do something about that if you want to. Or perhaps ask a trusted colleague. Or record yourself. 

Something that can encourage minimising is a fear of coming across as arrogant in some way when sharing an achievement, or being clear that yes you do have the answer, or indeed that you do have the right to be at the table, making contributions.

I often share a favourite quote of mine when I hear this.

Mohammed Ali: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

The chances are, it’s not serving you entirely well to minimise. And the chances are it’s not serving others well either. Minimising can create doubt and uncertainty for the person listening to you (quite possibly unconsciously too, but nevertheless there) and they may not take you as seriously as you’d like, or listen as carefully to what you’re saying, with potential consequences for you and the business. Conversely, it can invite them to minimise too.


When we minimise ourselves, there is usually some old, unhelpful, unconscious stuff getting in the way of being present and showing up confidently with all we have to offer. So, when you remind yourself of who you are right now, that can help you be more present and to offer the full version of what you want to say.

When you’ve noticed yourself minimising, remind yourself;

  • What’s the date today and how old am I? (Nudge yourself to the here and now)

  • What am I doing here? (I don’t mean in a philosophical sense - although hey let’s have that conversation some time too?! - I mean what is your role and purpose?)

  • What do I have to offer?

  • What do I know I bring in terms of achievements, knowledge and experience?

If you are working at this and that fear pops back up of ‘showing off’ or ‘too big for your boots’ or whatever the words in your head are about staying small, remember, you growing bigger, doesn’t make someone else smaller. When you own what you can back up, and bring everything you are and have to the table, you give yourself and others the opportunity to perform better.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. - Zen Shin

So, I’ll close by inviting you to get to know your minimiser (what is it that you say and do and how closely it aligns with what you want to say and do) and then, to choose.

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