Stepping in to a confident communication style

Stepping in to a confident communication style

In many situations in life, pressure can affect the way we communicate, and this is especially true of the workplace. In an environment which isn’t always designed to allow women equal opportunity to present their points of view, the concept of speaking up is fairly daunting.

Women struggle, even though most of us are natural communicators, and I attribute it to the conflict between what we want to say and the way we are expected to say it.

What do I mean by that?

Think back over some of the recent meetings you’ve been part of.  Was there a time when you really wanted to speak up? Perhaps you were angered by something, or maybe you had a solution. But you didn’t say anything…

That happens too often and the workplace pays the price in the end, missing out on our ideas and wisdom.

We don’t speak up because we feel it’s ‘not our place’ or ‘they won’t like what I want to say’ or even simply because you just can’t make yourself heard.

Women can’t allow themselves to be ignored or restricted to a specific type of conversation, because our ideas are as valid as any other.

What can we do to become more confident communicators? Practice these communication techniques and achieve results.

  1. Believe in yourself.

This is a tough one because you can’t just click your fingers and change your thoughts, but what you can do is be confident in what you are about to say, and know that you have as much right as anyone else to voice your opinion. The more you speak up, the sooner you will become comfortable and self-confident.

  1. Prepare your thoughts.

Don’t let your mouth start before your brain! Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. The feeling of pressure is often quite breathtaking, so remember to breathe before you speak and while you are speaking. Don’t rush your words because you won’t be understood. So prepare your words, breathe, speak slowly and breathe again.

  1. Don’t play down your words.

Some of us have a communication style that seems to excuse us for speaking. We filter our statements with words like ‘might,” “just,” and ‘sorry.” Those little words seem harmless but what they actually do is to discredit what we are saying. We sound unconfident and as soon as listeners pick up on that they stop listening. They want a solution, not a ‘perhaps.’  Try to eliminate those weakening words from your vocabulary and you will soon notice that you are no interrupted as often, nor spoken over.

  1. Maintain eye contact.

When you watch a man present you may notice that he maintains eye contact with his audience. Not only does it make him look confident, by looking at people he is commanding their attention. He’s asking “Are you listening to me?” and “Do you understand me?” He’s looking for support in the room and using it to bolster his confidence. Learn to do the same thing. (And it’s amazing what a pair of supportive eyes can do for you as you speak!)

  1. Watch your posture.

You know that your non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal, and when you are making an important point, it can be the factor that ensures you are heard. We’ve spoken about eye contact, but think about your posture.

Are you familiar with Amy Cuddy’s work on the Power Pose? She tells us that our body language affects how others perceive us but more importantly, how we see ourselves. To put it simply, she refers to the way animals puff themselves up to take up more space when they are threatened. They want to look bigger and stronger. Cuddy says we can do the same thing simply by altering our posture. Think about it. Humans extend their arms when they feel like a winner or feel powerful, but they when they feel weak, their shoulders droop and they visibly shrink. When you want to look confident, take up more space and notice how your mind picks up on it. You will actually feel more confident. If you haven’t seen Cuddy’s TED Talk, go take a look.

Practice these five techniques and you will soon be a confident communicator wherever you are.

If you need further help on a specific area of communication, you might like to take one of the online courses available on our website.

Have you found a specific technique that boosted your communication confidence? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment and share it with us all.

Glenise Anderson

Glenise is the Director of SR Group and Self Confident Women. Her passion lies in increasing confidence and emotional intelligence levels of individuals and teams, creating higher productivity and happiness. She is a speaker, qualified Trainer, Advanced Consultant in Extended DISC, Coach & Mentor.

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