Almost every book on communication mentions women’s use of tag questions or qualifiers. And whether women use them more than men is not clear. The important fact is to be aware of speech mannerisms that can be misinterpreted.
Typical tag questions include, This needs to be accomplished by noon. Is that okay with you? or We need to be at the meeting by 8:00 A.M. Is that a problem for you? The issue is that both sentences can are often interpreted as a window for choice. The receiver of the remark may say, No, it’s not okay with me, or Yes, it is a problem. Nonassertive speech patterns lesson a woman’s perceived power both in her personal and professional environment.
Another factor that’s a greater drawback for women than men is the use of polite speech. On the one side, politeness shows high regard and respect for one another. That’s not bad. Some cultures covet this behavior. But there are times when too-polite speech lacks the necessary assertiveness or forcefulness.
Shelby mentioned that she sometimes feels inhibited to ask for something boldly. Instead of saying Let’s go to lunch, to a coworker, she catches herself saying something like, Oh, you’re probably too busy and don’t have time to take a break. “I recall asking for permission to speak in a meeting last week saying, I know you’ve probably heard all there is on this topic, but would anyone have a problem with me sharing a different version of the plan? I immediately realized this communication lacks power. I’m now more conscious of speaking in a goal-oriented style so my message can be heard more effectively.”
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