It’s amazing how easily we can turn people off. We say or do things out of habit, without realizing the impact. This is especially true when connecting with new people, either individually or as a group.
Recently, I was speaking at a conference for women professionals. The host put on a fantastic event packed with great speakers and topics. As I listened intently to a speaker, I noticed the analogies and assumptions were highly relevant to guys and not relevant to women. It came off like a football coach encouraging a team to man-up and win! The presenter was not using football analogies, that’s not what I mean. But it was filled with motivational triggers for guys including:
- Good-natured Mocking/Ribbing
- Prodding to Perform
The talk was really good, fun, informative and accurate but tuned for an audience of only men. Unfortunately, the audience was only women, since it was a women’s conference. I suspect the speaker had no idea of how disconnected he was from his audience. After all, he’s normally talking to mostly men.
Later on, I was enjoying time with the participants and asked their perceptions. They just laughed and agreed that it was tuned for men and not for them. As women professionals in financial services, they’ve just gotten used to guy talk, even though they do not find it appealing.
Financial services has a long history of working with, for, and around guys. There’s a lot of guy talk. There’s nothing wrong with guy-talk, just like there’s nothing wrong with gal-talk. It just works better when you use it with the correct gender.
If you want to connect with women, be aware of habits that may accidentally turn them off. Below are tips on things to avoid and what to do instead.
Tip of the Day: Guy-Talk to Avoid & How to Connect with Women
1. Sports Talk: Many women enjoy sports and many do not. Using sports analogies routinely may turn off your female audience. Even common phrases like “driving to the goal” are embedded with sports assumptions. Pepper your speech with analogies everyone can relate to. There’s lots of them, when you think about it.
2. Competitive Talk: Generally, women are not as motivated to compete against other people. They’re more motivated by achieving what they want for themselves. Talk of competing, winning, rankings, being #1, or becoming top-dog is less likely to resonate. Instead talk about achieving personal goals, developing the life you want, feeling satisfied, doing your best, providing quality, serving others well, and caring for loved ones. These ideas reflect more of what women care about.
3. Good-Natured Ribbing/Mocking: It’s normal for men to engage in good-natured ribbing. Even the best of friends will “insult” their buddy by throwing out a jibe. Although there are always exceptions, this is not at all acceptable among women. Women respond to encouraging, supporting and cheerleading. Focus on encouraging talk that feels like “Come on, we can do it, I’m here to help you!” and not competitive talk that feels like “Come on, get moving you’re slacking!”
4. Prodding to Perform: We’ve all experienced the different gender trends on how men and women deal with problems. Usually, if something goes wrong women will look inward and ask themselves “What did I do wrong?”. It’s more common for men to look outward and ask “What other person or event caused this?”
Women are much more likely to be highly self-critical and not need prodding to perform. They’re mostly likely whipping themselves enough already. Even gentle prodding is likely to be discouraging or even insulting. Instead, focus on helping them articulate what it’s important, how they have succeeded so far, and helping continue the success. Help them get more “A’s” on their life report card.
Disclaimer: I’m quite sure I’ve made similar mistakes and missed my listeners by accident (notice I’m criticizing myself here, how very female of me). I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. Reach out and share a story or comment!