I hope this E-Mails find you well at the end of an amazingly good week! One last work day and then you can EXHALE and enjoy the weekend!
As a life long athlete in team sports, my communication style developed into a direct and dominant one. The sports culture is male dominated and insensitive, so as someone who was fully immersed in that from the age of five, it is no suprise I was labeled a “tomboy” and “a guy’s girl”. Men coached me and male athletes were my role models. As I grew up, I quickly learned that my sport influenced, masculine communication style, inhibited me to communicate with some women and men. Not meeting the gender “norms” as a woman can turn some people off. So naturally, I adapted.
There is an expectation that women are going to communicate in a more expressive, emotional and gentle way. I have watched my communication style evolve into a more “lady like” demeanor in an attempt to be likeable among my colleagues/direct reports and avoid being labeled as a “nag” or “b*tch”.
You all know I believe that every experience is an opportunity to learn. So, while gender expectations impose a lot of barriers, I also believe they create opportunity to learn and develop our best self (no pitty parties!). So what did I learn (and continue to learn)? I’ve learned to be flexible and adaptable with my communication style depending on the audience. It’s less about like-ability and more about connecting. It has helped me build relationships and grow personally. There are times when I need to be very direct, assertive and unemotional but there are also times when communicating with more emotion is totally appropriate and more effective. So, I say ‘thank you society’ for imposing bullsh*t gender expectations on me – I am actually better because of it!
There is no one way to communicate, regardless of gender. Knowing your audience and adjusting your communication style to connect and have effective and productive conversations is critical in life. With that said, as I’ve learned to be a more expressive communicator it does NOT mean dumbing myself down and giving up my power. You have all heard me say that women need to drop the word “sorry” from their vocabulary. Well there are few more phrases that can go in the trash along with it! I came across a great post this morning on Upworthy.com – “3 things women say that weaken the power of their words” The post highlights certain words and phrases that have unintended implications for women. I am sharing those with you today in hopes that you will recognize when you are using them and start to avoid them!
- “just” – “I just wanted to let you know…” “I just wanted to check-in and see…”
- adding “just” to statements gives other people more authority and control and makes the speaker seem defensive.
- “I’m no expert…”
- using qualifiers that lessen female authority to make strong statements, like “I’m not an expert” or “You’ve worked on this longer than I have,” are a common way that women couch their statements when they’re afraid of offending others.
- “Does that make sense”
- these phrases are subtle underminers, making it seem that women don’t have faith in their own ideas and are asking for approval for them.
Don’t avoid using stronger language, use it when it needed and appropriate. Communicate with emotion and gentleness when the situation calls for. Having the ability to adapt your communication style and delivery is a great skill that will take you far professionally. Your voice will be heard when you can connect and communicate with a broader audience of people. Don’t, however, use words and phrases to SOFTEN your opinion or gently undermine a point to make others feel more comfortable!
So, take a seat at the table, prioritize your perspective and know how to best communicate with the audience in front of you.
It takes work to be a great communicator and to do so with confidence. Work at it! Below are some resources I found informative and helpful:
Chumlee’s weekly glamor shot is on point. Thanks for taking Andrew! Check out his Flickr page for more great shots of Chumlee…
Embrace the day!
Twitter: @cturner_strong Instagram: @ciaturner Facebook