While men undoubtedly have communication challenges at work, there are common themes for women that often lead us to feel disempowered, ignored or struggling to fulfil our potential. Some worry about being ‘too passionate’ or overemotional, while others don’t feel confident to speak up in a male-dominated environment. What is often overlooked is that as women, we have incredible natural qualities when it comes to communication. One thing’s for sure ladies – you don’t need to act like a man to succeed at work. You have all the tools you need to fulfil your potential already. Here are three examples…
Women have an advantage when it comes to building rapport – making others feel important and feel heard. It’s not just asking questions and showing interest, we also do this by keeping eye contact, often using a relaxed, softer gaze, and with nods and smiles. In general, we have far more capacity for inviting others to feel relaxed.
Asking questions is a great way to take back control of the conversation in a calm and grounded way. It maintains rapport, even encourages it, and yet puts you back in the driving seat. State your idea with conviction and then conclude your idea with invitations. “What do you think?” “Do you think this could work?” “What’s your take on it?” Inviting others to contribute their own original thinking after you state your idea will empower others and ensure that they feel valued. Be sure to avoid disclaimers – more on that here.
Empathy is perhaps one of the most effective communication resources at anyone’s disposal. And women do tend to have a more natural capacity for empathy than men. Particularly when leading a team, empathy is invaluable. It means women are more inclined to perceive and tune into issues people are facing, so they can deal with problems before they get out of hand. Their empathy also creates a sense of safety within a team, so that colleagues are more empowered to take risks and express greater creativity. The value of this cannot be overstated. Read our blog on why honest and open communication is getting respect at work.
Be aware that we tend to prioritise being liked, and therefore in an attempt to empathise, we become reluctant to offer feedback that could be interpreted as harsh, or to give a direct order when one is needed. Most of the time, empathy will work in our favour, but there are times when we will need to express ourselves in other ways. To show authority and certainty, make sure you use downward inflection – this is when you let your voice go down at the end of your sentence. It’s important to ensure the tone of your voice matches the situation you are in.
It’s been scientifically proven that women exhibit higher sensitivity to nonverbal cues. We are usually more attuned to how our behaviour affects others and this sensitivity allows us to respond more effectively to a situation. We have learnt to talk in ways that balance our own needs with those of others, to save face for one another.
Sometimes something needs to be said that causes conflict – and sometimes that conflict is helpful and necessary. If you struggle with being assertive, read this blog for some top tips.
So there you have it, a few examples of our tremendous natural qualities and why it’s important to capitalise on these skills and learn how to amplify them in the workplace. You don’t need to dominate to have impact. Of course, there are men that will identify more with female characteristics and vice-versa, but all are important, and all need to be valued. When your communication starts becoming more powerful, you’ll find that your team members benefit from their contribution, and other women will be encouraged to be more authentic and powerful too.
At London Speech Workshop we empower our clients to be confident, clear and impactful communicators. We help people remove barriers that get in their way due to their communication. They might want to get a promotion, be more respected in their work, have more authority or gravitas, increase in confidence at work and in personal life. Or they may have trouble delivering presentations and speeches, dealing with nerves, connecting with others, building rapport, getting their point across or being articulate. If you’d like to find out more about what we do, book a free 15-minute Discovery Call to discuss your goals and challenges with our Client Success team.
Author: Hannah is the Marketing Executive at London Speech Workshop, an industry-leading communication training and coaching institute. The proven Serlin MethodTM uses a combination of modern psychology, performance technique and memorable tools, empowering people to be the best communicators they can be.