How to be assertive as a woman and present yourself as fair and strong but not as a man? If you’re a woman you’ll realise that it has long been known that men find it easier to build rapport with men, and women with women. Men’s norms are derived from a competitive and status driven group relationship, with little intimacy, and winning against others is good. In contrast women develop mainly one-one relationships and success is judged by how well others like you.
There are also fundamental differences in communication styles, for example men’s vocal style in rhythm, speed, tone, volume will usually differ markedly from yours. This extends to non verbal differences, for example the extent and expansiveness of head and hand movements. These have been shown to create differences in the effectiveness of interaction between men in organisational life where men can quickly and naturally build up a rapport with each other. In contrast you may find it difficult to build this unconscious relationship. As a result you might find your views and opinions seem to be ignored, or your behaviour is interpreted as ‘bossy’ or aggressive as you struggle to put your points across.
It is absolutely possible for women to retain their essential female qualities yet adapt these often subtle differences of behaviour and rapidly build rapport with men. When this is achieved an environment of trust, confidence and participation is established. Only then are women able to contribute or influence as effectively as their male colleagues.
The following 5 tips will help you be assertive as a woman and present yourself as fair and strong but not as a man
- End your sentences in a low tone of voice – this increases gravitas and matches the male tone
- Emphasise the verbs in your sentences – this shows you’re action orientated, a male characteristic
- Keep your arm gestures open and at waist height – this ensures that you don’t bring attention to your chest by flapping your hands in front of you when your talking, an annoying and distracting female characteristic
- Relax your facial expression (cheek muscles) to avoid smiling – when you want acknowledgement of ‘what’ you’re saying people will pay more serious attention
- Keep your head and shoulders still when you’re talking- this sends a message that you’re level headed
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