Craft of Communication have created a series of programmes specially designed for women executives and managers.
A Changing Work Environment
Although women’s role in society has changed radically, most women still work in companies that are run, and often owned, by men. As one of our clients from JP Morgan quipped: ‘that JP ain’t short for Janice Patricia.’
There is good evidence that the business world is showing greater awareness of gender equality issues. Backed by statistics that prove that companies perform more strongly when they have a more diverse board, there are moves to ensure that women have better representation on the boards of companies. In the UK, there is the ’30 Percent Club’. The EU has made a ruling that listed companies will be required to reserve at least 40% of their non executive director board seats for women by 2020.
These strategic goals provide the context for the work that needs to be done in the workplace to promote gender equality.
Craft of Communication Women in Business Programmes are designed for women at all levels of management. They cover a wide range of training needs: from helping with the issues that often arise for women working a largely male environment, to developing the suite of communication skills women executives need to progress upwards through management and into senior roles.
We can work with both individuals and groups. Working with mixed groups can be particularly fruitful. In this context, we can address a complex mix of problems that including
- Women feeling their views don’t get heard or acknowledged.
- Male managers who are, perhaps, unaware that there is a problem for female staff.
- Company culture creates communication problems between male and female staff.
All this can be addressed.
The central idea in all Craft of Communication training is Understanding and Empowerment.
We teach our clients the fundamentals of human communication and how it affects interactions and relationships at work. We then offer techniques that can empower individuals to alter the way they communicate. This impacts on both themselves and in interactions with others. Our approach enables clients to understand and so, take charge of, their own development.
A good example of our approach is the way we use Voice work in our Women in Business programmes.
The Physical Voice & the Metaphorical Voice
When we do vocal work with a client, we are mindful that we are nurturing two voices:
- The Physical voice: the sound that is made during speech.
- The Metaphorical Voice: the feeling of Having a Voice.
The Metaphorical Voice encompasses:
- The wider aspect of Voice and Communication
- An individual’s desire and need to be heard
- An expectation that thoughts & emotions have impact on others.
Working on both the Physical and Metaphorical Voice is particularly important to women in business. Many clients come to us saying that they feel cannot be heard at meetings. We give specific vocal training which can eliminate a whole range of vocal issues including audibility and diction.
However, often, there is nothing wrong with the physical voice. It is clear that the problem is rooted in the Metaphorical Voice – an assumption that they will not be heard, will be interrupted and their views will have no impact. This is not uncommon, and a good example of the Metaphorical Voice inhibiting the Physical Voice.
There a clear reasons why this happens.
The Voice and the Body
The voice starts in the brain with the thought or emotion you want to communicate to someone else. That impulse is sent down the Phrenic nerve to the diaphragm instructing it to flatten down into the abdominals and drawing down the lungs to take in a breath in preparation for speech.
This action triggers a series of changes in the body that enable the speaker to ‘voice’ their thoughts and emotions.
However, communicating those thoughts and emotions can be impeded at any stage of the delivery. This is because of the way we function as Human Beings. This can be summed up as
Everything we Think and Feel is reflected in the Body.
Therefore if you feel your thoughts are not valid, your opinion unworthy, and your input unimportant this will unconsciously impact on the anatomy and physiology of the body, such as breathing and posture. This is how the Physical Voice can be impeded by the Metaphorical Voice.
An individual, facing a meeting or audience while feeling that they won’t be heard will create anxiety that will impact on the individual and so, on the outcome of the meeting. The excessive tension in the muscles caused by that anxiety can impede the movement of diaphragm, reducing the levels of oxygen which then impact on the volume and quality of the sound you make. This will have a profound effect on the impact you have on your audience.
It gets worse: knowing that you are not having an impact on the audience before you reinforces the conviction that you won’t be heard, which then produces more anxiety – and so on. It’s a vicious circle, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, knowledge empowers. The way out of that vicious circle is to first, understand this process. Our approach is to shine a light on these problems, and then teach techniques that can reverse the vicious circle.
There is of course, a lot of work to do with the male audiences that really do ignore our female clients. We could, and do, teach Awareness and Listening Skills. However, in these cases, our focus is on the speaker.
We cannot start by changing other people. We start by empowering ourselves to change and allowing those changes to impact on those around us.
The vocal and communication techniques we teach on our Women in Business programmes empower women to express what they mean in a voice that commands attention not because it is strident, but because that speaker has a voice of authentic authority.