5 Myths We Have About Good CommunicatorsJun 02, 2021
Myth-Busting: saying or showing that something generally thought to be true is not, in fact, true, or is different from how it is usually described.
I love love love myth-busting around communication, presentation, public speaking, voice, and wordy-type things.
Love probably isn’t a strong enough word, to be honest.
Why? Well, general nerdiness is one factor, to be sure. But the other - much bigger - reason is because women carry so much baggage on this topic. Like, Victorian Steamer Trunk-levels (don’t know what that is?? Check it out here).
The moment when a woman realizes the truth and then recognizes how much the myth has held her back, is magic.
Not because she’s suddenly beating herself up because of lost opportunity (I’m quick to stage an intervention if things move in that direction) - no, it’s because, in that moment, she suddenly sees all of the possibilities. I’m telling you: it’s crazy-addictive to be the witness to that stuff.
Oh! And before you get all, “Well, this is just for professional women, or executives or women that are some-sort-of-’special’”, let me stage ANOTHER intervention.
These myths being busted, serve every woman.
My Favourite Myths
With so many to choose from, it was a wee bit hard to narrow it down. So, I’m going with the very unscientific approach of the Top FIVE that popped into my head - and they likely popped in first because I hear these all the time.
How many have YOU said / thought / believed??
- She was born with it
Only Maybelline gets away with that tagline, in my books (90s throwback moment!). The rest of you need to get over that myth pretty darn quick
Yes, some of us are more extroverted, others more introverted.
READ MY LIPS: This has NOTHING to do with effectiveness as a communicator. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. In fact, I would argue that extroverts have additional challenges as communicators (which I get into at another time).
While she *might* have had life circumstances that enabled her to work on these skills earlier in her life, she was not born with it. Communication is a learned skill. You started life with the same set of potentials.
So while you may have different challenges, mountains to climb, types of baggage, the fact is, you, too, WERE BORN WITH IT.
- It’s easy for her
Well, that’s a pretty big assumption, isn’t it? How often do we ascribe ‘ease’ to women who do something well? A little too often, in my opinion.
Think of a gymnast like Simone Biles: would you ever say that it’s “easy for her”? (maybe you do - shame on you!).
Sure, she makes it look easy, and yes, it is irrefutably “easier” for her than for someone like me (Dude, I can’t even do a somersault - like, ever). But you can bet every penny you’ve ever had that Simone has worked her ass off to make it look easy.
The woman who seems so patient with her kids? The teacher that finds different ways to teach kids who are struggling?
The community leader who engages factions in productive conversations? All of these women might be good communicators, but assuming that it’s easy for her is at best uninformed and at worst utterly disrespectful.
She might be struggling every day to be a good communicator; she might have worked for years to get to this point; she might not believe she’s a good communicator. Point is, you don’t know.
It might be easier for her, for any number of reasons, but what does that have to do with you? Assuming that it’s “easy for her” gives YOU a potential excuse to not even try - especially if you believe it will be especially hard for you (which is, frankly, what many women believe).
I suppose that if your expectation is that valuable things should be easy, then you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands, don’t you?But if you’re NOT afraid of work (whatever degree it might be for you), then you, too, can develop the skills and make it look easy, too. Seriously.
She has a better voice/appearance/personality
The research does seem to indicate that there is an initial advantage conferred on those deemed more attractive.
Know what offsets that advantage VERY quickly (and fundamentally changes how you are perceived)? Yup. Your voice and personality.
Going back to #2 and the discussion about hard/easy and expectation, I’d like to challenge a few aspects of this particular myth: first, appearance.
No, I’m not going to say “go get yourself a facelift, new teeth, bigger boobs” etc (though I WILL get a facelift sooner rather than later). I’m not suggesting you be anything less than you (or more, as in the case of the boobs).
Rather, I challenge you to reframe the ideas of ‘appearance’ around your personal style and grooming practices. ANYONE can be more attractive (whatever ‘attractive’ might mean) by upping their awareness of how to express their own uniqueness and inherent beauty through how they put together their ‘look’. People like Lauren Messiah do a great job of empowering women in this regard.
And I’m not getting into the weeds with you on what women should/should not do, and the patriarchy, and shaving your legs, etc.
This isn’t about fashion: this is about how you physically represent your identity - and you don’t get a choice on that part, because you DO have a physical self, and it DOES represent your identity. The point is you can CHOOSE how it gets presented.
As for voice and personality? Well, voices can be trained. I know many ostensibly attractive women who, the minute they open their mouths, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.
So, while they might have an initial advantage, that advantage dissipates rapidly. PLUS, you keep your voice (if treated kindly) for your life - appearances change (no matter what Joan Rivers attempted).
Same goes for personality - you can develop authentic skills that allow you to connect with people effectively. The beautiful woman who is a complete asshole is just that….a complete asshole.
The moral of the story seems to be this: if you choose to believe that appearance governs your status as a good communicator, then up your game. Same goes for your voice and your personality.
And if you believe that those are things you ought to have been born with (not work on intentionally), I suggest you take it up with the Universe when the time comes. In the meantime, sit in your corner and throw stones.
She’s had training/practice/opportunities
Again: maybe true, maybe not. But regardless, so what? Assuming that someone has had training (which is why they’re good - and you’re not) is like saying, “Oh, well, she’s got an advantage I can never enjoy because I can’t have training/practice/opportunities.” Which is, I’m sure you’ll agree, bullshit.
I can spend all day shooting holes in this one. Can’t afford training? Welcome to the Internet (tons of free stuff, if you’re careful and picky). Can’t practice? Sure you can - in the bathroom, in bed, while walking, while driving, while reading to kids, while cooking, you get the idea.
Play both parts. Write out conversations. Use toys (SERIOUSLY) and have conversations. Sounds crazy, sure, but it works. No opportunities? Well, if you’re expecting to have them delivered to your feet, then you’re probably not going to have any.
If, however, you flip your expectations to finding and/or creating opportunities, then the situation can change.
Start conversations. Continue conversations. Join groups. Attend meetings. Put your hand up (virtually or otherwise). Call a friend or family member. Talk to your kids, your neighbours, your cat. The more you open your mouth and hear and feel your voice, the more comfortable you will get. Fact.
She’s smarter/better educated
Do you actually need me to bust this myth for you? Being a good communicator has NOTHING to do with your intelligence OR your education. Why?? Because intelligence has no correlation with communication skills, and education (in the vast majority of the world) doesn’t teach good communication skills.
They might have had exposure to public speaking/formal presentation skills, but that does not a good communicator make. Trust me on this one.
In fact, some of the best-educated and smartest people I’ve ever met couldn’t communicate their way out of a paper bag, even with written instructions.
If you have the intention to communicate, you learn to listen and engage with other people, you will be a good communicator. My grandfather, with a Grade 8 education, was absolutely outstanding: my friend, who has a law degree, and is a brain with two feet, has all the social communication savvy of a turnip.
Hopefully you’ve encountered a few nuggets today that will help you reframe some of the myths you might have (unknowingly) subscribed to throughout your life.
Don’t be surprised if you believed most of them - unfortunately, women aren’t given a lot (or any) knowledge, skills or opportunities to develop their communication skills.
Sure, we’re considered nurturers, blah blah blah, all about relationships, blah blah more blah, but tell me something: when was the last time you remember a woman in your life (generally an elder) sitting your ass down and helping you understand communication and how to do it better/more effectively?
So don’t ever feel bad that you believed and/or acted out these myths as if they were real. It’s not your fault. But now that you know?? Well, time to put on your dancing shoes and get out there and boogie.
Maybe you’re one of the tiny number that has had a different experience. If so, finish this blog quickly and get out there and make a difference, okay? Don’t delay. The world needs you NOW.
Want to join a group of women setting about to own their voices, their lives, their futures? Consider joining TEEwithD’s Private Facebook Group, “Dangerous Prima Donnas” for support, resources, and weekly Lives.