How many times have you received feedback along the lines of, “Why didn’t you say something?” Or even worse, when you do speak up, “Help me understand X,” or, “Your male colleague explained it better.”
You're not alone! Oftentimes, this can prevent us from celebrating our success, which can hinder or impede business opportunities and career progression.
Because of these roadblocks, it’s even more imperative that we convey our vision effectively. To overcome the unique communication challenges we face in the workplace, here are three actionable strategies I’ve embraced:
Use Assertive Language
There was a recent study out of Washington State University in Management Science that proved how language choices could eliminate the workplace gender gap. The researchers found that when women used assertive language, listeners followed their advice just as much as men’s advice. The speakers in the study specifically reminded their listeners about their expertise, excellent skills, abilities, as well as their trustability. Simply put, say what you mean and mean what you say.
Do you show empathy when your team needs it the most? Do you share credit with others? These are the types of traits that establish trust and loyalty. When women in leadership roles combine compassion with wisdom, employee satisfaction goes up by 86% compared to leaders that lack those two traits, according to a Potential Project study. The data also showed that 55% of women ranked as having both compassion and wisdom compared to just 27% of men. In other words, female leaders are able to make hard decisions in a human way.
Lean on Sister Relationships
In a TED Talk episode, writer and advocate Melinda Epler described her first experience presenting her strategy to her new company. She recalled the executives in the room picking up their phones and looking at their laptops as she expressed her ideas. “I was the only woman in the room, and I could have used an ally,” she said. Oftentimes, women in the workplace can be competitive with one another, but if we’re competing with each other and against gender bias, we’re leaving ourselves at an even bigger disadvantage.
When women in leadership communicate strategically, they have more engaged teams and drive better job performance. You can take steps today to be the kind of leader that amplifies your potential during Women's History Month and beyond!