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Words: Expanding Your Sphere Of Influence Through Better Business Communications
By Candy Tymson   Printer Friendly Version

People of influence are the men and women within an organization whose opinions count-not necessarily because they rank high on an "org" chart but-because they have acknowledged experience or are associated with people of authority.

Peter Drucker, the father of the science of office management, once said, "As soon as you take one step up from the bottom your effectiveness depends on your ability to communicate your thoughts in writing or in speaking."

To extend Mr. Drucker's thought, the words you choose to use will broaden the sphere of your influence or limit it.

Gender-biased words and communications are a case in point. Although I acknowledge it's important to understand the Mars/Venus differences, I also believe it is more important in the business world-which is close to 50-50 male/female now-to communicate to and from the neutral planet in between-Earth.

Unfortunately, some men haven't woken up to the fact that not everyone is interested in solely macho activities, and some women haven't learned that ultra-feminine concepts will not win a large share of the marketplace.

I recently attended a motivational talk delivered by a male speaker where all the statistics, stories and references related to sports. Normally, I find this sort of talk enriching but after an hour of being bombarded by the backgrounds and philosophies of people such as Vince Lombardi, Wayne Gretzky, Mohammed Ali, Willie Mays, and Wilt Chamberlain, etc. I found my enthusiasm and interest waning-as did many of the females in the audience. What is wrong with Se Ri Pak, Katarina Witt, Silken Lauman and Judy Diduck? Note: He didn't capture all the men either as the audience was not a particularly sports-oriented one.

Another man who likes the sports motif is Prime Minister Chrétien who at a $350-a-plate dinner (mixed audience) explained some of his gaffes by saying "No prime minister can hit a home run every time he stands up at the plate. Prime ministers can sometimes miss the ball completely. Prime ministers are at the plate so often…they, too, have their share of strikeouts."

On the other hand, we have women who tend to choose more feminine words in their business dealings and then wonder why more men are not buying their services/products. For example, the owner of a newly-formed training company, recently announced how dismayed she was because she was receiving fewer call backs from men than she had when she first started her business. We narrowed the change down to when she altered the voice message she was leaving. Initially, she said she dealt with a select group of experienced people who had proven they could successfully handle training needs. Her later message stated she had a boutique of trainers to meet training needs. And, her call-backs from men decreased. Any wonder?

In addition, I have seen women entrepreneurs blow themselves out of many competitions because of their letterheads and business cards. Fuschia and mauve are wonderful colours (particularly when selling cosmetics-think Mary Kay) but not when selling consulting services in strategic planning or change management.

In today's workplace, we can't afford to deliver messages solely to Mars or solely to Venus. We must find a middle path and communicate to Earthlings.

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