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How Communication Impacts Women in the Workplace


How Communication Impacts Women in the Workplace

Most people are aware that women are underrepresented in corporate America, but a recent study has quantified that representation. 

Women in the Workplace 2017 is a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. Over 200 companies employing more than 12 million people participated in a survey of their HR practices. They found that female representation drops at each level of advancement of corporate America, with the result that only 20% of C-suite roles are occupied by women. Importantly, they found that women and men stay at their companies and ask for promotions at similar rates, meaning this disparity can’t be attributed to female workers leaving the company or demonstrating a lack of interest in advancement.

What can you, as a professional woman do?

While you can’t control cultural level gender stereotypes that contribute to underrepresentation, there are changes you can make to your communication style that can help project leadership and confidence and get you the advancement you deserve. Here are just a few of the ways you can strengthen your communication skills to convey confidence and professionalism and climb the corporate ladder.

  • Don’t Over-apologize: It’s great to apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but many women have a tendency to over-apologize, inserting “I’m sorry” into situations in which it isn’t warranted. For example, if you’re stopping in to ask a colleague a question, saying, “I’m sorry, I just wanted to ask you a question,” instead of “Can I ask you a question?” or “Could I have a moment of your time?” Over-apologizing can deal a significant blow to your perceived confidence and leadership abilities. Try to take note of how often you say “I’m sorry” on a daily basis, and judge whether it’s really warranted.
  • Avoid Upspeak: Have you ever spoken with someone who sounds like they’re asking a question, even with they’re making a statement? This is called upspeak, the habit of continually raising your tone at the end of a sentence. Not only can upspeak be distracting, in a professional situation, it can make you sound as though you lack confidence and are unsure of what you’re saying. Take care to monitor your tone when you speak to sound professional and authoritative.

Related: 4 Tips for Keeping Your Best Employees for the Long Haul

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