Language, Sex and Power: Effective Communication Techniques for Women

Cyd West, a specialist in linguistics, presents ways to enhance your communication skills that are pertinent to every woman who lives and/or works with men. She covers:

• who gets heard and why.
• how men and women communicate and interpret each other.
• potential language pitfalls which commonly occur in the workplace.
• how these differences affect women in the workplace and in positions of authority.
• what we as women can do to improve our communication effectiveness with men and in the workplace.

As young girls we are taught to be considerate, to save face for others, to apologize, and exercise modesty. This training often runs counter to the communication skills that are expected and rewarded in the workplace. If you know women who have waited for someone to notice they’ve done a good job or whose deferential nature has kept them from advancement, you have witnessed this dichotomy in action.

Linguistic research has unveiled a wealth of information for women working with men. Deborah Tannen, Robin Lakoff and other linguists have studied how language patterns are formed at a very young age and how they grow to differ for the sexes. These differences, hierarchical communication for men and relational communication for women, are the basis for much of the misunderstandings and lack of value of women’s contributions in the workplace. Understanding these potential pitfalls and leveraging our strengths as women in relational communication techniques can ensure our visibility, power and effectiveness in the workplace.

• Help women and men understand the beneficial dynamics of utilizing the full spectrum of communication skills and attributes;
• Enable women to succeed in traditionally male oriented workplaces and be perceived as strong and effective in their leadership roles.
• Provide an understanding of communication pitfalls and opportunities by both sexes that can lead to effective leadership for both men and women.

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