This week, there has been a lot of talk about what women should or should not say in the workplace. After a Business Insider piece by Ellen Lease regarding women's use of the word "just" went viral, many reactions have followed.

There are those who stand with Lease, citing the numerous studies that have shown women subconsciously deferring to men in their speech with incessant apologies. Then, we also have those who have taken a stance against Lease, arguing that policing women and their speech patterns is actually worse than the effects of saying "just" or "sorry."

What, then, is the most effective solution?

The problem with articles that tell women what to do or not do is the same as it's ever been -- they still tell one half of the world how best to carry on with their lives. The real answer is something we all know intuitively: There is no blanket solution to everyone's individual life.

Some of us are more polite than others. We include phrases like "if you don't mind" and "when you can" even when they feel a little unnecessary in hindsight. Others among us have a tendency to fall on the more blunt side. Our words can be interpreted as harsh, unadorned by little cushions of fluff.

It takes, however, an artful combination of both forms of communication to achieve true success.

In an article published last year, Daily Telegraph columnist Rowan Pelling wrote that she often encountered females who were "pleasant and obliging" in preliminary interviews, but employed those who "generally had a bit of edge to their personality" in the workplace. She stressed that both obsequious and overwhelmingly forceful employees were not preferred.

Thus, it seems that the best way to win people over is simpler than we thought: Be a good, courteous person and show your own strength however you best see fit.

It is important to keep in mind that women are generally seen as overly apologetic, but if you feel comfortable being very polite, there's no crime in doing so. What really matters is that you show your mettle -- that it exists, and that it is unwavering -- when the time calls.

If you are strong, you are strong.

How could anyone argue with that?

Published on: Jul 16, 2015