Women: Refine your roar


Differences in communication styles can mean women's messages don't carry the same weight. Here's how to give statements more oomph.

Women: Refine your roar

News flash: Men and women communicate differently. And sometimes, those differences mean women's messages don't carry the same weight with listeners. So, women, give your statements more oomph with these communication tips.

  • Give the bottom line first, and then elaborate. You may think it's important to lay out background information first, but you risk losing your listeners if they don't know up front what you're driving at. State your main point first, then elaborate and clarify as needed.

  • Don't end statements like you're asking a question. It's common for women to end statements with an upturn in tone, as if they're asking a question. Don't do it—it makes you appear tentative and less confident.

  • Keep your hands and arms calm. Energy is good, but it should come from the force and passion of your ideas, not frenzied gesticulations. Also, watch out for the little girl head-tilt. It can undermine your credibility.

  • Take up prime real estate. When you walk into a room for a meeting, instead of slinking to the back and hoping you won't be noticed, sit next to the big fish and start a conversation.

  • Interrupt sometimes. Women are taught to be polite and wait for the other person to finish speaking, but if you always follow that rule, you may never get a chance to be heard. Don't be afraid to jump in and state your viewpoint—even if it means cutting someone else off (especially if that person has been talking for a while).

  • Welcome criticism. Criticism can help you develop as a professional. The key is to view the feedback as an opportunity and not take it personally.

  • Cultivate mentors. While men tend to bond with mentors in nonprofessional settings such as the golf course, women are more likely to spend free time at home with family. Look for opportunities to spend time with a mentor, even if it means carving time out of your workday.

Excerpted from Dr. Bernadine Cruz's talk at the 2007 Western Veterinary Conference, "How to Walk and Talk Like a Woman but Be Heard Like a Man." Dr. Cruz is an associate at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif.

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