Study Finds that Confident Communication Is More Impactful than Gender Bias
Summary of Results: Talking confidently mattered more than gender, according to one study. Participants in an experiment followed advice delivered confidently (defined as using assertive language) more often than advice delivered less confidently (using less assertive language), regardless of the gender of the advice giver.
Study Details: The same advice was given by men and women to participants at several levels of increasing assertiveness. For example, two of the most extreme levels were:
- More confident/assertive (“If you listen to my advice, I can assure you that my skills and experiences will help you perform well in this game”)
- Less confident/assertive (“You probably have better problem-solving skills than I do, but here is what I am thinking”).
Results Details: People responded to confident/assertive advice most often, regardless of the gender of the advice giver, and their responses increased with increased advice-giver confidence/assertiveness. There was no difference in participant response based on the gender of the advice giver. However, most participants characterized the more assertive advice as being more masculine. Also, participants expected the result would be that more participants would follow men than women leaders.
Also, participants were asked what communication style they would use if they had been the leaders. Women participants were less likely to choose an assertive style of communication on average than men, but both groups avoided the least assertive choice.
Sources: Manian S, Sheth K. Follow My Lead: Assertive Cheap Talk and the Gender Gap. Management Science. November 2021;67(11):6880–6896. doi:10.1287/mnsc.2020.3837.
Study finds no gender discrimination when leaders use confident language. Science News. November 18, 2021.
Tips for Self-Confidence
Using Confident Posture Helps
Putting your hands on your hips for a few minutes (in private) before entering a meeting can boost feelings of confidence about participating.
Source: The Power Poses That Will Instantly Boost Your Confidence. Inc. December, 2015.
Watch out for words that result in less confident communication. Do you really need them?
- Most likely
- I think
- I suppose
- If (as in “If ___, it will sell”)
Source: Grammarly, 2020.