Communicating your point of view in a professional setting is a skill that takes a special sort of mastery. In a room full of men, you might notice that they are uninhibited from sharing their thoughts. Statements such as, “I do not support that;” “We will not be moving forward with that idea;” or even “I completely disagree” are commonplace from our male counterparts.
However (and I’m going out on a limb here by saying this), when women use powerful language, even if it’s that same as that of our male counterparts, we are perceived as “aggressive” or “bitchy.”
My mentor once equipped me with some great go-to phrases to use while communicating with others in moments of disagreement. They are great to incorporate in your daily conversations:
- “Tell me more…” – This allows the person to better articulate their idea, and allow you to seek clarity.
- “Let me give this some thought” – A real leader considers the opinions of others, even if they are not popular ideas.
- “You raise an interesting point” – I like to use this as a way to massage the ego of whoever brought forward the idea, but then bridge back to why a different direction would be better.
- “Let me take that back to my leadership team” – This demonstrates leadership and empathy, but doesn’t require you to agree with the idea.
- “It can be done, but…” – This approach shows that you’re trying to be collaborative, but also transparent with the idea’s downsides.
So go ahead and voice your opinion! Just remember that men and women have different ways of communicating. Looking to learn more? Check out this nice summary of “Communication Blind Spots” from Fast Company magazine.