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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Gender, Business and Communication

It's a sad reality, but a reality none-the-less; the bold and abrasive people get listened to regardless of how good their ideas are because those ideas are couched in confidence.
That means the instinctual collaborators - the people who don't think they have all the answers - have to work twice as hard to be heard.  This is why progress is slow.
While I like the distinction between feel and think, though, I would personally change the wording a bit; we tell ourselves feelings are feminine and logic is more masculine but there's no evidence to back that up - just tradition.  It's just the terminology we've gotten used to.  The reality is that emotional response comes first for all of us.
By Maria Gamb, Leadership Mentor and best-selling author of Healing the Corporate World
Sarah looks up at the blank stares coming back at her.
She’s completely prepared for this meeting, but now she’s breaking into a cold sweat. She looks left and right and almost simultaneously the 5 people around the table start talking with each other. Eventually they arrive at the very same solution that Sarah initially offered. Within minutes the men are slapping each other on the back, congratulating Jim for his brilliant idea. Others smile at Jim. But Libby walks directly towards Sarah – “You completely lost them. I know this was your idea. Why didn’t you fight for it?” Sarah drops her head. “I don’t know. I thought I did the best job I could. It’s so frustrating, because I know the men are not taking me seriously.” Libby nods in agreement.
Often times it is NOT a question of competence or clarity, but delivery. This is part of the gender communication code. Men and women communicate differently. There is no reason for a woman to try to morph herself into a man and a masculine style to be heard and be taken seriously. However, part of gender intelligence is the ability to be agile in one’s communication style and make adjustments as needed.
There are 6 easy ways to adjust one’s delivery to ensure others can hear you.
Refine your pattern. Some women end their sentences with an upward inflection in their speech pattern, which translates to others as questioning and potentially signaling lack of confidence in what you’re saying. Do your best to avoid this speech pattern. End sentences in an even tone instead. Remember, passion, conviction and desire to resolve issues are not a “question” so don’t end your statements with an inflection that leads others to believe you’re unsure of what you’re saying.
Exchange phrases such as “What do you feel?” with “What do you think?’ More male or masculine dominant styles (women can have a masculine style too) are less interested in “feelings” and more motivated by the word “think”. It’s a more tangible framework for them. Know whom you’re talking to and make this adjustment as necessary.
Always speak in terms of specific outcomes and results rather than in the abstract. If you have specific goals and objectives for the department or company, gear your position, suggestions and solutions to reflect that end. It shows your focus towards the end goal rather than what your ego may be perceived as wanting to achieve. A common goal and focus towards achieving it garners more respect from others.
Your body language tells your entire story. The most effective, universally accepted body language is that of someone who is perceived as warm, friendly and calm. This means non-invasive hand gestures (think lateral movement rather than forward or backward motions) and making frequent eye contact.
Apply your mothers rule “You always get more with honey than vinegar”. This means avoid negativity, criticism and complaining by replacing it with being positive and proactive.
Acknowledgement goes a long way. Remember, everyone wants the same thing—they want to be seen, heard and recognized for who they are and/or what they do. Feigning acknowledgement is easy to detect and can often be misconstrued as sarcasm. So, if you can’t do this with sincerity, then hold off until you can.
Oftentimes it helps if you can have an outside observer give you feedback on your last presentation, meeting or client encounter. Which of the above behaviors did you utilize and which ones could be added in the future?

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