Being an entrepreneur is a risky decision for anyone to make and it comes with its share of challenges. One of theses challenges is communicating with others directly to avoid or manage conflict. Because business owners have to interact with others, it is inevitable that a difficult conversation will arise. It has been noted that women have more of a challange dealing with difficult conversations than their male counterparts. It is for this reason that many issues are avoided completely or not completely confronted. Failure to communicate directly can lead to lack of alignment, operating inefficiences, lost opportunities, wasted resources, and other costly, yet controllable, mistakes.
There are many factors that may contribute to this disparity in women entrepreneurs, ranging from low confidence to lack of managerial experience. Whatever the root cause, there are solutions that can be applied to help women become more direct communicators. Some of these solutions are listed below:
- Mastering Objectivity – Approaching conversations from an objective point of view helps to remove any mis-directed emotions.
- Prepare in advance – Before having a difficult conversation with someone, prepare the details for the information you want to convey. Knowing what you want to say in detail and in advance may help to increase your confidence and the liklihood of you getting this message across.
- Be timely – If there is an issue that you need to raise don’t hesitate to communicate it. The longer you allow an issue to fester, the higher the probablity that the issue will either remain in silence or become an exaggereted concern.
- Assume your Authority – Step into your role and share your decisions, direction and professional desires boldly and unapologetically. Once you commit to communicate it, commit to enforce it.
- Use Your Voice – While it is beneficial to learn communication techniques through trainings, books, etc., be sure to develop your own managerial voice, one that you feel comfortable using consistently.
- Have walls for bouncing – Develop a safe network of people that you can use to role play conversations and remove any subjectivity before entering a sensitive conversation.
- Remove Noise – Don’t make communication more difficult than it needs to be. Remove any extra elements from the conversation by avoiding email for senstive communication, do not sandwich an issue in the middle of an agenda where it can be lost or ignored, allow ample time for discussion and/or clarification, choose the right place to have this conversation – not in front of others, if possible.
Being a direct communicator does not meant that you need to be aggressive and cold, but it does mean that you need to know what you want to say, say it at the right time, stand behind your words and above all else, be yourself.
Resources to help you improve your communication skills:
- Find your Courage: 12 Acts For Becoming Fearless in Life and at Work by Margie Warrell
- Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone
- The Confident Leader: How the Most Successful People Go From Effective to Exceptional by Larina Kase