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Business Communication Tips for Women
Contributed by kforce's
Camille Primm, Change Agent

The gender landscape is finally shifting. The revered and powerful "Good Old Boys' Network" is slowly being given a face-lift to allow for the increasing number of women in business today.

The interesting thing is that the "Good Old Boys' Network" perpetuated itself by men of one generation helping the next one along. Having a "godfather" in the business meant that you had a much higher chance of success because you had someone to pull strings for you.

My observation is that the "Girls' Network" thrives on an entirely different principle. I see women mentoring each another to ensure that they have a chance to learn the ropes. Many women in the work force grew up without role models or learning competition through sports. They pass on information partially due to their natural inclination to nurture.

Business Obstacles
In her work Woman to Woman, author Judith Briles conducted a recent study that surveyed women in the workplace. When asked what barriers they faced in their careers, four key obstacles were cited: prejudice, communication, sabotage and poor management.

  • Prejudice includes discrimination based upon age, looks, sex and race. While this is a gray area, our perception is the reality from which we operate. As victims of alleged discrimination, women and their ultimate success are adversely affected.
  • Communication is the "make or break" skill for any businessperson, but women should be particularly aware of the image they present and the message they send to others.
  • Sabotage was listed as a problem by 71% of the women surveyed in the 1994 Briles Report. They stated that they had been undermined and sabotaged by female coworkers.
  • Management trap means supervision as in too much, too little, the wrong mentors, or the lack thereof. Lots of individuals in the workplace have been promoted beyond their level of competency. Many women reported being interrupted when talking, criticized when they disagreed with their manger, and sometimes called emotional. In addition, many stated that their title might indicate a level of authority but they often were not given the authority it warranted.
Success Strategy
These key obstacles really bring home the message that women must continue to develop their communication skills to remain competitive. Try these proven tips to help you succeed, regardless of your profession or position:

Use Assertive Mannerisms

  • Good eye contact will ensure that others take you more seriously.
  • Lack of strong contact can mean submissiveness, fear and nervousness.
  • Women are more apt to use direct eye contact, so use it to your advantage.

    Smiling

  • Women tend to smile more and inappropriately, especially during conflict.
  • Worse, women may giggle when nervous.
  • Use your smile to project confidence and sincerity.

    Head Nodding Up and Down

  • Men typically nod to symbolize that they agree with what is being said.
  • Women nod just to indicate that they are taking in information.
  • Avoid nodding to a male coworker when you are just listening and not agreeing.

    Learn to Sell Yourself

  • Make business a common topic in your social communication.
  • Showcase your knowledge.
  • Make others aware of your skills.

    Speak with Conviction

  • Remember, self-confidence is the number one requirement for a leader.
  • Don't allow yourself to be interrupted when talking.

    Tell It Like It Is

  • Don't sugarcoat your comments or feedback.
  • Give only direct and honest criticism.

    Be Logical in Your Communication

  • Use facts and data to support your opinions.
  • Avoid limiting your credibility by using such phrases as "I feel."
  • Apply goal-oriented language.
  • State the facts and avoid a lot of unnecessary storytelling.

    Women have unlimited opportunities in today's business climate. Communication skills are one of the biggest factors impacting success or mediocrity in your career. Be assertive and your confidence will soar in every situation!

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