How often do we think about how we are coming across when we talk to colleagues at work, or contribute to a discussion around the boardroom table?

Most of us tend to communicate, usually unconsciously, in the way we were brought up to speak. As Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., explains: “Communication isn’t as simple as saying what you mean. How you say what you mean is crucial, and differs from one person to the next, because using language is learned social behavior: How we talk and listen are deeply influenced by cultural experience.”[1]

It’s important to understand our social influences and be aware of how we communicate with others to leverage what works. Judgments about competence, about who gets the credit, and about who are natural leaders can be inferred from the way people present themselves. Often there is a mismatch between how we think we are projecting ourselves and how we are actually being perceived.

A great deal of research has been done about the different ways women and men communicate, and how that impacts their careers. From my reading and experience as a coach, here are my key take-aways:

Women tend to communicate to build relationship and rapport. All too often, when women talk about their accomplishments, they talk about the ‘we’. This can be seen as trying to deflect their successes, even if their intention is to be generous and inclusive of the team effort. Women tend to have their accomplishments diluted, and in the process, diminish their achievements. This can have a detrimental result if the listener is a manager or a group of listeners that includes male colleagues. When men communicate, they generally have no problem talking about their accomplishments. They own their successes, and generally use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’.

How can you be your best self, your own female self AND be seen, heard, acknowledged and celebrated?


In my workshops, we talk about the differences in communication styles, and how to recognize the nuances in the way people are presenting themselves.

If you feel you are being overlooked at work, in spite of your contributions to the project and team, it is worth looking at how you are presenting yourself, and how that presentation is being received by others. I welcome the opportunity to work with you, either in one of my workshops, or through individual coaching, on your communication style, to make sure that you’re being effective in how you project your message.

My next workshop is being held on August 11, 2018, click here to register

Our initial 30-minute phone consultation is free

What are you waiting for?…Connect with Shieh-Chi Chen now!

And I invite you to view my CTV News interview at HERE

[1] Tannen, Deborah. The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why. Harvard Business Review. September-October, 1995.





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