Communication Skills Are Not Just for Women

Today’s mail contained an advertisement for a seminar, “Communication Skills for Women.” This same advertisement also showed up a few weeks ago.

One of our GenY managers came by my office to ask if I’d seen it. I said yes, but I didn’t really look at it before tossing it in my trash can. She pointed out that just about every stereotypical description of women in business was listed on the front page of this brochure. She was very offended!

Here’s the list of communication items with which women supposedly need help:

  • Confronting or criticizing others
  • Being taken seriously
  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Dealing with other people’s anger
  • Speaking in front of a group
  • Controlling one’s emotions
  • Receiving criticism
  • Getting cooperation
  • Setting limits
  • Taking the floor

Reviewing the list, I considered why it was disconcerting to her. There are twenty percent more males in our company than females and I can identify just as many of these issues in our men as I can with the women. So, why the sensitivity?

It’s marketed exclusively to women.

Why does it need the label? Are they thinking presenting the topics in a workshop only for women, it provides a “safe” space for them?  I’d argue that blending the genders would be more effective, as it more accurately represents the workforce.

What do you think?

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About the Author

April Kunzelman

April Kunzelman, PHR, has a wide range of experience in many aspects of personnel management. For over 10 years, she served as the HR Director for fatwallet.com, building an award-winning culture. April now spends her days working with the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.

6 Comments

April Kunzelman

Robin – Interesting thought! It seems like a time waster type seminar to me, or one people would take simply to get education hours.

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Robin Schooling

We get those same brochures here at the office. Apparently “Communication Skills for Women” marketing initiatives cross all state lines. I too have often been perplexed by the need to continue to promote this as a program for women, and yes, somewhat offended. They might as well add the sub-topic of “crying at work?’ if they feel the need to pinpoint such gender-stereotypical topics as listed.

I’ve often thought of going to one of the seminar venues when they are in town to see how many attendees are there and to see if I can determine their jobs/roles/professions. I think I’m going to re-add that to my “to do” list – purely from a research standpoint of course.

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April Kunzelman

Shaun – I would say you are on target. This particular person does possess a great deal of confidence!

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Shaun Emerson

April…I agree that these are definitely cross gender issues. I also find it interesting that the offended manager was from the Millennial generation. In my experience, female members of Gen Y have a great deal of confidence in their abilities and would be particularly perplexed by such a seminar.

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April Kunzelman

John – you’re so right. I can’t even imagine suggesting to our guys that they go to one of those seminars.

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John Jorgensen

Good point April. I agree that stuff like that is so slanted but I am guessing effective in that it still exists. It is a shame because I have encountered many males that need help in that area as women, and god forbid, if you suggest a man go to that seminar.

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