Clear the Clutter: Language Strategies for Women

womenblahWant to command greater respect at work? Crystal communication transforms business success! To get your point across, recognize that powerful language articulated in a strong, clear voice is crucial to being heard.

Men and women approach the business game differently. Not surprising news. What is surprising is how many women sabotage their professionalism using weak, hesitant and confusing language. Men, on the other hand, are typically strong and powerful in communicating their message.

The next time you’re in a meeting, listen closely when a woman speaks. Does she get down to business, getting right to the point, or do you find yourself mentality begging for mercy as you wait for her to get there? Is she strong and confident in the new promotion she’s pitching, or is she hedging as if she’s not sure the idea has merit? Does she let her emotions get in the way when her proposal is challenged, or does she stand firm in her convictions without taking it personally?

Crystal communication is what women need to learn if they want to command attention and receive the credit they deserve. Here are three language strategies women can employ to succeed:

#1 – Get to the Point!

Nothing frustrates a listener more than a speaker who meanders her way to the point. In meetings, as I listen to someone going on and on and on, in my head I hear myself screaming, “Get there already!” Deliver a brief recap of the facts, not the unabridged version of the story; otherwise, your audience zones out and your opportunity is lost.

When asking for that raise you deserve…

DON’T walk your boss through every single activity of every single day for the past 6 months. They don’t care! They want to know how you impacted the business and what long-term value you provide to the organization, so summarize the key facts. Your job is to demonstrate that the organization cannot survive without you, thus ensuring you receive the raise you deserve.

DO summarize your key points like so…

Sandra, in the past 6 months, I have increased sales in my territory 25%, saved our two largest accounts from defecting to the competition – the loss could have been $500,000 annually – and created a new sales mentoring program that identifies and nurtures up and comers that you’ll want on the team.

If I’m Sandra, you can bet I recognize that this employee is someone I cannot lose. I’ll do whatever it takes to get her the raise!

#2 – Quit Behaving Like a Girlie Girl

Ladies, let me blunt! Talking barely above a whisper or behaving in a girlish manner significantly diminishes your chances of being taken seriously as a business person. You’re a grown woman in business – act like it! For starters, speak up. Every communication class worth its salt tells us to pump up the volume until you feel you are practically yelling. When it feels like yelling to you, the volume is right. Second, what’s with the shy, fidgety, mushy, um…ooohhh aren’t you sweet, well, um, gee…behavior? And don’t even get me started about the women who find it necessary to “cuddle up” against a man, rubbing their arm, batting their pretty little eyelashes. We aren’t delicate schoolgirls out on a first date! Don’t undermine your career efforts by acting like you are.

For those women who might be thinking, boy, is she suggesting I have to act like a man? Absolutely not! We can revel in our femininity and still be strong, intelligent, powerful business women. Behaving like a little girl gets your career nowhere long term.

If any woman reading this doesn’t understand the difference – call me!

#3 – Own Your Mistakes But Stop Apologizing All the Time

What is it that causes women to apologize when whatever went wrong had nothing to do with them? Women apologize almost as often as they breathe and while sometimes it is appropriate as a show of empathy, it makes no sense to apologize for things having nothing to do with you. Guys don’t do this by the way.

As human beings, we all make mistakes. When mistakes happen, do the right thing and accept responsibility for the problem. You want people to know that you acknowledge the gaffe and intend to do something about it. Resist the temptation to blurt out, “I’m sorry”.  Consider this example instead, “I missed the project deadline, which caused extra work and headaches for others. It won’t happen again. I have adjusted my schedule to ensure that ample time is allotted for tasks you are counting on me to complete”. There, now that’s more like it! Verbalized in this way, it is clear you’ve owned your mistake – you’ve apologized. More importantly, you have clearly communicated that corrective action has been taken. Handling mistakes in this way, will earn you respect from management and co-workers, and you will be a role model for others to emulate.

Remember that clear, uncluttered communication is tantamount to success! What you say and how you say it means the difference between being a player in business and sitting on the sidelines. Ladies, it’s your choice!

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