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How to Shut Down Interruptions in the Workplace

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If you’re a woman, being interrupted is probably an all too familiar scenario.

Research has shown that women are interrupted significantly more often than men, even at the highest professional levels. A recent research article showed that female supreme court justices are interrupted at three times the rate of their male counterparts, regardless of seniority. The NY Times also recently covered the issue of women fighting to get their message heard in the workplace. So what does a woman need to do to be heard?

While the reasons that women get interrupted are often rooted in deep-seated cultural norms and gender bias, there are steps that women can take as communicators to lessen this effect. This month, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) published an article on the phenomenon of female interruptions and how communication training can help combat the issue. Take a look at some of their suggestions below:

Increase Vocal Power: Because women speak at a higher pitch than men, their voices can be more difficult to hear. Increasing vocal strength and resonance can create a more confident, authoritative voice. Learning to breath the right way can improve breath support and overall vocal quality. When speaking, breathe from the abdomen, not the chest, and be sure to breathe deeply enough that you don’t run out of air.

Cut out Fillers: Fillers are words, phases or sounds which hold no content, but are often added to speech. Some of the most common filler words and phrases are “um,” “well,” “you know,” “basically” and “okay?” Not only do fillers give others an opportunity to interrupt you, they make you sound unprofessional, and unsure of yourself. To learn how to reduce fillers in your speech check out our four-step plan!

Watch for 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: Is Miscommunication Affecting Your Bottom Line?

Want more? Check in with us again next week for part two when we talk about how word-choice can make the difference between being walked all over or projecting confidence and authority!

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