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The best communication advice anyone ever gave me

More than a decade ago, I did a presentation on public speaking for Columbia Women in Business – a club for graduate students at Columbia Business School. With more than 400 members, CWiB is one of the largest organizations on Columbia’s campus.

My presentation went well.

Afterwards, an attendee came up to thank me for the communication tips I offered. Then she added: “I’d like to return the favor by giving you a tip of my own.”

Here’s a summary of the insights she shared with me:

Women who change their opinions on a topic often face a unique blow back. Whether in business or politics or medicine or education, women are likely to get public criticism when they change their views.

Maybe they supported something 5 years ago, but they don’t support it now. They get labeled “flip-flop” or “indecisive” or “wishy-washy”. And what do they do? They often respond with apologies. “I’m sorry. I regret that choice” or “I’m sorry. I wish I’d made another decision.”

Apologies have their place – absolutely. But many women apologize way too often.

Better?

If criticized for changing your position, consider this simple honest statement: “New information presented itself.”

When new information presents itself, wise people listen. Wise people keep learning.

When new data shows a better way forward, wise people make fresh decisions.

“New information presented itself.” Memorize this short statement. You’ll convey truth and confidence – in just four words.

Gratitude to the wise audience member who shared  this with me…

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