Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Communications Blunders

Every time I talk to self-employed women and women business owners, the same stumbling blocks to success seem to crop up. 

"I get shy" about promoting myself, one amazingly talented and successful woman said recently. This is an accomplished writer who is not someone you would ever identify as "shy." But when it comes to self-promotion, it's difficult even for many confident, extroverted women to do it.

Yeah, it's difficult for some men, too. But I think they are less apt, as a group, to fall into this trap. What do you think?

Here are some additional blunders that women seem to make, as identified by Roshini Rajkumar, a communications consultant and author of, "Communicate That!"   

  • Apologizing for perceived short-falls: Stop apologizing because it makes you sound weak. Instead, come up with a suggestion.
  • Bad posture: This includes rolled shoulders and shifty feet. If you stand up straight you will appear more confident and people will take you more seriously.
  • Lack of voice projections and weak vocal behavior. Having a weak voice, including nasal or ultra-feminine tones, gives others the impression you are not capable. If you adapt a stronger voice you will have a better chance of not being second guessed.
  • Lack of pride in accomplishments: Take pride in what you’ve done, and others will see how you can be beneficial to the team as well.
  • Less is more: Be very intentional about what you say and how you say it. Don’t be too wordy.
  • Ill fitted clothing: Clothes that don’t fit is unprofessional. Get your clothes tailored to fit you perfectly -- the extra money makes a huge difference.
I don't know about bad posture, but I've certainly seen otherwise-professional women in ill-fitting or inappropriate clothing at business events. Either they're wearing baggy, shapeless outfits, they're too casual or they're in clothes that probably fit nicely - a couple of sizes ago.

Not a good look, either way.

And the apologizing, preemptively and totally unnecessarily, really is a pet peeve of mine. I just hate to see women starting off a conversation with "sorry" when it is not expected or needed.

What about you? Are there blunders that bother you, or others that you've noticed - among men or women - when it comes to communication? 


  1. What a great post! I see me here. It's a constant battle. I'm not one of the shyest ones because I've had to learn this, but it does trip me up. I think we learned as young girls that it wasn't proper to brag, so to speak.

    I recently saw a video of myself and was appalled at my posture. I'm on a shoulder-straightening rampage. If you see me slumping, please remind me. I'll be working on the wardrobe thing at the after-Christmas sales.

  2. Petrea, I think you do fine with both your posture and your wardrobe.

    Yes, we were told not to brag. I remember my mother explicitly telling me I wouldn't have any friends if I was a bragger. Also, I think socially girls who are self-promotional get shunned by the rest of the group - you know the girls we all "loved to hate"?

    So our mothers instill this in us and we reinforce it with each other socially, instead of applauding each other and propping each other up.

    It's one of the self-destructive things I notice about women and may be partially responsible for studies like this one, that show the entrepreneurship and confidence gaps are not shrinking at all: