In the October 6-12, 2023 Triangle Business Journal “View Point” column, Communications coach and speaker Karen Friedman provided her article “Here’s Why Women Should Not Talk Like Men.” Karen starts the article by addressing the question she often gets about how to get women to communicate more like men. She replies by sharing that people should not aspire to communicate like someone they’re not.
She shares research on how and why women communicate differently than men, but them closes the article with seven key tips to help everyone develop strong communicate skills without compromising who they are. So I will share her seven and add some of my own comments. Here they are:
1) Listening. Listen without interrupting the person, let them finish their thought or idea. And listen with 100% concentration and don’t be formulating your response while they are talking. See my earlier blog on listening skills for leaders.
2) Empathy. Sit in your listeners’ seat to try and understand where they are coming from. This is a part of the key inclusive leadership skills of cultural intelligence – knowing that not everyone views the world through the same lens and experiences that you do.
3) Ask questions. This shows that you are truly listening, are engaged and want to know more. Most people appreciate asking them questions as a way of showing interest. And never ask questions in any accusatory tone, but instead out of a sincere desire to learn more.
4) Hit the headline. Attention spans are dwindling, so quickly get to the point without talking in circles or rambling with unnecessary or unrelated details. This is especially important when those of us in the older generations (Baby Boomers and Gen X) are communicating with the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z.) The younger generation grew up with quick sharp communications and short sound bytes.
5) Clarity. Avoid complicated language that can confuse listeners. It is very important to understand your audience and their expertise in what you are sharing. What is important to them? And especially in communicating with multi-national audiences, slow down your cadence and avoid the use the slang terms and idioms.
6) Tone. A respectful but confident tone can impact how your message is received. The opposite of this would include tones of condescension, aggression, and whining / complaining negativity.
7) Culture. This key one goes across all the other six skills since cultural differences certainly impact all areas of how people communicate and receive communication from others.
I fully agree with one of Karen’s closing points that a strong communicator transcends gender, and I will also add that it can transcend cultures and generations too.