Business communication trends

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Getting a Word in Edgewise – Still a Challenge for Women

meetingThe gender research is in. After all these years, women still speak drastically less when outnumbered by guys. And that’s bad. Or is it?

I don’t care how MUCH I talk. I care that the perspective I offer contributes. Of course, the two are related. The researcher reported:

“When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion. We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.”

(Of course, it’s not strictly a gender thing. Some women are naturally masculine in their participation and some men are naturally feminine in their participation – and that’s not a criticism of either.)

The exception

There was one exception to the finding. When the resulting decision needed to be unanimous, women spoke more, and the decision reflected more community values. In other words, when every opinion matters by design, every voice is heard.

I’ve spent 25 years learning to SpeakStrong, and be direct when my inherently more feminine perspective is ignored. I’ve also spent much of that time learning to change the game so I don’t have to compete in a style that is unnatural to me, and less refined than I’m capable of. 

The alternatives

It would be inefficient to require that every decision be reached unanimously. There are other ways to structure discussion so every voice matters. Many of my communication formulas do just that. Often, just pointing out how unbalanced a conversation is makes the difference. Phrases like this can change the dynamic.

  • I notice that I have to power-up to be heard in this conversation. How can we shift from competing with each other to listening to each other?

It’s a meta-message that addresses context. Some say content is king. I say context is. If the context won’t let you get a word in edgewise, create one that does. 

This is what happens when we rush

I’d been trying to find a time to meet with “Darla,” and emailed a possible time. My email said,

  • How about Friday at 12:30?

Darla replied, “Friday would be great. What time?”

 It didn’t surprise me a bit to note that her reply came from a mobile device. They’re harder to read, and people are often on the go when they use them. And that is what happens when we rush. We miss things that are right in front of us.

I learned a lot about Darla in that quick response. If I didn’t understand the dynamics, I might think she’s not so bright. But she holds down a very responsible job. I can’t conclude she lacks intelligence, but I can conclude that I need to be aware of the fact that she can reply without understanding. I will communicate with her differently than someone who considers every word. I’ll check her facts and reconfirm our agreements and take more responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication. 

It’s amazing how much we can learn about someone from a six-word email. Or a short blog post – which is why I’ll run spell-check on this before I hit save. 

Speak Strong Method

The SpeakSTRONG Method: 6 steps to effective communication skills

The SpeakSTRONG Method is a six-step system of character-based communication that works.

The method is based on the qualities of HEART

        Honesty, Eloquence, Accountability, Responsiveness and Transformation.

The SpeakSTRONG Method is effective at work and at home. You can download a free handbook about the SpeakSTRONG Method here

Significance takes HEART. So does character-based communication.

The heart of anything is its center – the heart contains the vital essence. Without HEART, words lack significance. At the HEART of a character-based message you’ll find, 

  1. Honesty
  2. Eloquence
  3. Accountability
  4. Responsiveness
  5. Transformation

Character-based communicators are highly effective because they infuse HEART into everything they say. They refuse to be lulled asleep by empty phrases that induce a cultural trance. They find the vital essence before they speak. The SpeakSTRONG Method takes you to the HEART. I describe the HEART here. 


Here are the details. 

SpeakStrong Method Graph 

When you speak, say something significant. Six steps to significance.

Your eyes aren’t the only windows to your soul. Your words are windows too. When you say something, say something significant.

The SpeakStrong Method starts by uncovering blocks to your dynamic flow of meaningful communication. It delves into the cause, cure and opportunities present in your communication challenges. It helps you find the words that get you and those you speak with unstuck and moving forward. It structures personal and interpersonal communication commitments to provide a principle-based foundation for clear, respectful and effective interaction. This happens in six steps.

The six steps to effective communication are:

The 6 steps to effective communication skill

  1. SEEK significance.  Stop saying things you don’t mean and ask what you’re not saying. Unmask and explore the HEART of the matter.
  2. TRANSFORM the trite. Translate complaints into requests, find the opportunities in problems and uncover the significance in anything small-minded.
  3. REFINE your phrasing. Pick and finesse your words. Tweak phrasing to add HEART-felt eloquence.
  4. OWN your words. Make your words your bond. Commit to communication standards and honor them. Walk your talk.
  5. NARRATE and relate.  Say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. Say something significant – and whole-HEARTed.
  6. GROW with the flow. Let every exchange enrich you and the others that you touch.

Watch me describe the six steps here.


Here are the details. 


The SpeakSTRONG Method will elevate and vitalize your communication

The transparency of our current communication environment is changing the way we communicate. What worked before doesn’t work anymore (although many of us insist the old way never really worked all that well anyway.

The six-steps of The SpeakSTRONG Method will transform the way you relate, influence and succeed. I have programs and resources for every level of your organization. Talk to me about how I can help you and your organization take your communication to the next level of effectiveness – and dynamism. 

For information on SpeakSTRONG services including workshops, keynotes and coaching, see my Services page, call 719-684-2633 or contact me by email: E-mail Meryl