A reflection on what I’ve learned (and should now unlearn) about communication while working remotely as a female project manager in techFeatured

bakerrac's profile thumbnail
On a similar note. I struggled when I came back to Canada after living in Belgium. The Dutch are a lot more direct and blunt.People would find me quite rude and I would think to myself "I'm just expressing myself the same way a man would."We are trapped and enabled by the culture in which we live.
robotgrrl's profile thumbnail
Interesting. What do you think about giving praise?
HannahCooper's profile thumbnail
Great post! This resonated with me so much, I hadn't realised how many of these things I do without even noticing. I use to make a conscious effort to go through emails and remove 'fluff' (I think, I believe ect) might be time to start that again.
@EricaHerschorn - this is a very authentic view of the realities of being a female professional in 2021. Great post. I hold one theory around how to move away from women needing to appear overly happy, friendly and having to add fluff. My theory involves women taking a cue from men in how they support one another.Talking only from what I've seen and experienced in my career, men are much better about not holding grudges, not reporting one another to management for reprimand, not being cliquey or exclusionary, and just celebrating teams and accomplishments of others. I've got to be honest that some very bad experiences with other professional women make me feel like as a women I have to watch my back. When a women is short and to the point in her communications I have a PTSD-type response wondering if I somehow wandered into a territory where she feels threatened and will find a way to get me written up to knock me back down.
EricaHerschorn's profile thumbnail
Hi @catherin124 thank you for the reply and the great feedback! I am sad to say I have definitely experienced something similar (not recently, but several years back). Beyond the individual, I think a lot of that has to do with company culture and what is acceptable in an organization vs. what is not.
TefiSaravia's profile thumbnail
Great post @EricaHerschorn! Everything you mentioned resonated with me and I don't think I was fully aware that I've always communicated in a more "kind and warm" way so I don't come across as bossy or know it all. I'm curious, are you now communicating more directly, and if so, what has been your colleagues r response?
EricaHerschorn's profile thumbnail
Hi @TefiSaravia! Thanks for the response! I would say this is an ongoing work-in-progress for me. My first step has been sharing my ideas not as questions, but as the ideas they are, and not asking for validation after I've shared the idea. In terms of response from my colleagues, I can't say there has been a noticeable shift from my perspective, but perhaps the perception of my ideas is different.
TefiSaravia's profile thumbnail
Thanks for sharing :) I guess if it's not a negative response, it's a good response.
vanessaarenas's profile thumbnail
This was such an interesting read. Thank you!
americaturner's profile thumbnail
I was told by a manager once that when I did presentations, I came across as someone who wanted to “teach” others... that I should be more “soft” and pitch my presentations in a way that didn’t seem like I thought I was “smarter” than others ... LOL I was waaaaay more “likable” than some of my male colleagues who always spoke their mind bluntly and some of them even used lots of sarcasm.... So.. that’s that 🙃 And I was an operations manager... my job was literally to optimize processes (!) Thank your for this post. I’m also a digital project manager in tech and remote work without never meeting some team members in person is SUPER HARD. And yes I use a lot of emojis and gifs ...
allyclark's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing this! This was an interesting read for me as I recently got feedback from a female VP that I come off as too casual and bubbly. Her feedback was that this makesme seem like I am young and inexperienced (despite my education and years in the industry). This encouraged me to start working with a language coach. It's interesting to see that some of the advice listed in the sources in your post are the exact opposite of what I'm trying to do! For example, I laugh as a placeholder so smiling all the time is something I am NOT trying to do. Saying "I think" and "I believe" makes me seem like I have no idea what I'm doing. This is not the feeling I'd like to emanate when I'm trying to move up the management track.Sadly there is so much conflicting advice for women out there....
ritika's profile thumbnail
I know this is a reality but I hate that we have to spend so much time on how we are perceived instead of focusing on work itself. It's another burden taking up our mental power instead of solving the problem and keeping the playing field unfair.I spent the early part of my career learning how to soften my message and be likable. Now that I'm in a position of leadership I sometimes get feedback that I don't seem confident and I'm trying to unlearn those things. At times I just want to throw up my hands and say, "can we just focus on the substance of what I'm saying instead of policing my tone and delivery??"Also, I don't think the way men do it is necessarily better and something to absolutely strive for. There have been times I'd wished they'd moderated their tone and not been as authoritative or (overly) confident when they didn't have the facts/experience to back it up.
CharityLorenzen's profile thumbnail
wow this really resonated with me. I also noticed that there's a big difference in east coast vs. west coast. working in NYC, people are very direct and straightforward in their communication styles. working on the west coast, being direct often gets misperceived as being harsh, negative, mean or bitchy. totally not the case! other transplants from the east coast have also noticed this. I'm trying to be more conscientious of how i deliver things and appreciate your tips for gentle suggestion.
colorcode's profile thumbnail
I’ve experienced this also and remember this point being made in the book Lean In about acting as a comforting communal leader like a mother in order to succeed. It struck me and still strikes me as totally unnecessary. I think women would be a lot more comfortable around men if men fluffed up their language also, making opinion statements instead of ultimate judgements about what is and isn’t, what does and what doesn’t. I’d love to see women entering into an era of simply not taking the “be nicey nicey” advice. Sugar coatings are not authentic, they’re coatings we put on when what we so long for us to be seen.
jaynadevani's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing this, I found this an incredibly interesting read. At the end you mention becoming less concerned with how you come across. How do you now ensure your ideas or contributions get buy-in from your team?
isabellspringer's profile thumbnail
Great share Erica.I would like to add: when you have done some power personal-growth work you will then be in the business or getting people. You will begin to see that EVERYONE you meet is (unconsciously) feeling they are "not enough" and you speak to them from that distinction. This requires you doing some of your own personal work, learning the distinctions that are missing for you about really connecting with people and of course the powerful way of which you use language. How you show up, is about being highly related to others, and they can feel it in your presence. It's who you are being. It's not a role, its you being authentic and connected and present in a new way. A place you stand from in your life and who you are for others. You being to connect with them in a way that without words that has them feeling acknowledged for who they are. This is how we lead today, from a highly relatable way, and still honor the work agreements, etc... People need to feel cared for. Like they matter, authentically, not in a worklife surface way. Also, it is the language you use, the way you carry yourself and hold space for people so they feel loved and seen and appreciated by you. You make requests in ways they feel honored, respected, and that and feel significant and that they matter. And they feel seen and UNDERSTOOD for the human being that they are, and not just an employee. This is a learned skill. And if you want to be an extraordinary leader of people, all people, you must learn how to do this. This is not about learning techniques - this is YOU getting who YOU are, that you are not being, for yourself, and for others. And when you get clear about who you really are, and let go of your own "inner voice" that constantly tells you that you are "not enough" (not a good leader, partner, etc..) and you do the work you need to do on yourself - you will then be able to elevate the lives of these beings that work with you, and finally be the leader that you were meant to be. This is the role I play in the lives of leaders and all humans, everyday, all day long, and it is nothing less that extraordinary to witness this transformation. People finally becoming the confident, self-assured, powerful leaders they were meant to be. Happy to offer resources that may start you on this journey. In gratitude and love. -Isabellisabellspringer.com