There is no true “best” communication style, but it is true that men and women communicate differently in the workplace. And it’s often men that make the bigger impact because of this.
If you’re a woman, it can feel sexist and old-fashioned. And it is. But it’s also something that’s rooted in society and, as a result, the workforce.
That doesn’t mean you can’t try to shift the norms and break out of the cycle of feeling ignored. It’s just a matter of shifting they way you speak to be more powerful and heard.
How Men and Women Are Different
Stereotypes aside, women tend to take on traditionally female communication styles in the workplace. They are more likely to ask for help, directly or indirectly, while men tend to avoid seeking help or direction.
Men speak to negotiate and maintain their status. They are heard as leaders, the go-to person when it’s time to make a decision. On the other spectrum, women speak to create a bond and build rapport.
Women enjoy sharing information and experiences to forge relationships and connections, while men place a high priority on tasks, getting results and solving problems. Because of this, women tend to tolerate interruptions during a conversation more than men, because women know that people want to be heard.
Women like to ask questions to get the full picture of a situation and make sure everyone is on the same page with the level of understanding before a decision is made. This collaborative approach can make women come off as submissive. Men are the complete opposite. They will arrive at the decision based on their intuition.
How Women Can Tweak Their Communication
As you can see, communication goes well beyond the words you use. One widely reported guideline established by Albert Mehrabian, a non-verbal communication expert, is that only 7 percent of communication is the actual words we use while 55 percent is body language and 38 percent the tone of voice.
While these numbers are often disputed, it’s clear that a lot of factors are in play when communicating–in person and online. And when you’re sitting in a corporate meeting or at a networking event, it’s the non-verbal cues you give off that can distort the meaning of your words.
Sure, be careful about what you say. But also be aware of how you’re presenting yourself.
- Avoid filler words that make you sound unsure of yourself.
- Stand (and sit) tall, with your hands clasped in front of you or at your sides. Avoid crossing your arms as this comes off as combative and closed.
- Use eye contact when speaking. When you’re talking to more than one person, make eye contact with your entire audience.
- Speak from your diaphragm to help project your voice without feeling like you’re raising your voice.
If you’re challenged by communicating effectively in a stressful situation, practice with your peers or even your family. Download my cheat sheet to find out, How Powerful is Your Message? And use it to help tweak what you’re saying and how you’re saying it so you can be more a more effective communicator.
You can also get notified when my new Communicate With Confidence course, Communicate With Power in Less Than an Hour, is live! Sign up here!