Speak-up: How Women Leaders Can Communicate More Effectively in the Boardroom
If you have been talked over, interrupted, or, infuriatingly, had your ideas co-opted by others in the room, this post is for you.
Many women find themselves in these situations, particularly as they begin to hold more senior leadership positions. Unfortunately, the C-Suite is still heavily male-dominated, and we can feel habitually at a disadvantage as the only woman at the table.
I have been fortunate to have powerful female mentors throughout my career that have helped me to banish uncertainty and be confident in my approach. As women in leadership positions, we don’t do ourselves (or others!) any favors by couching our ideas in vague justifications, offering apologies before statements, and not sticking up for ourselves when others adopt our ideas for their own.
– A great and memorable saying I heard from Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, an all-around amazing person who held the position of the most senior woman in the Royal Canadian Navy and happened to be a former teacher of mine. (It’s a fairly well known saying, after a bit of digging we believe the original and correct attribution is Jenifer Bunis as found in Witty Words from Wise Women, Quips, Quotes and Comebacks by B.J. Gallagher, 2021)
Here are three valuable reminders for communicating effectively in a professional setting:
You are in that room for a reason. You have important ideas to share, so share them. Do not hold back from expressing your views, especially if they are different from the consensus. Your input is valid and valuable.
Never preface your ideas, comments, or questions with an apology. It diminishes your position. Avoid words and phrases like “just” or “I think.” Articulate your point clearly and crisply.
If someone interrupts you while speaking or attempts to reframe your idea as their own, calmly interject and re-state your point. It’s not being aggressive. It’s being strong and assertive.
Chandler Communications can help you become a more confident communicator through personalized training and coaching tailored to your needs and goals. Contact us today to learn more.
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