An issue that always seemed to come up whenever I got a chance to talk to other women working in my field was “what do we have to do to be heard?”.  It seemed that we had all experienced various forms of ‘invisibility’ at meetings and team sessions.  Of course one of the most irritating things was when what we said was ignored, only to receive praise when put forward a little later by a male colleague!

If you’re a women working in what is commonly referred to as a ‘traditionally male profession’ you, like me, may have had times when you knew the men in the meeting weren’t really listening to what you were saying. And you often knew this because they totally ignored your input.  Almost as bas was when they acknowledged it, but with some condescending add-on, like “that’s alright honey, we’ve got that covered”!

If you want to THRIVE and live your life fully, without regrets or guilt, you don’t want to be the invisible person in the room.  You want your contributions to be taken seriously, not ignored because you’re not “one of the boys”.  Because I had got hooked on the art and science of communication in university I never stopped reading and researching how to improve my own communication.  And make no mistake – one of the best ways to enhance your career and life is to become a master communicator.

Several discussions I’ve had lately with women in science have convinced me there is an ongoing need for information on how women can use and enhance their communication skills to help them THRIVE so I’ve decided to concentrate my Blog posts for the next little while on sharing some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me stand up, step forward and speak out without being invisible.

The 1st Key to Success with Communication that I want to share is that you need to understand your own style and how sometimes we all use communication styles that undercut and sabotage our message and our ability to succeed, without our even realizing it.

You may already have some idea of your personal communication style, and may even have taken an Assessment or two to help you understand your own style better.  This is a good start.  Even if you haven’t taken any Assessments you can learn a lot from the many books available that will help you identify your own style and the implications of it.  My own personal favourite is the Path Elements Profile© (PEP©) Assessment by Laurie Beth Jones.  I first discovered the book, “The Four Elements of Success.  A Simple Personality Profile That will Transform Your Team” which explained the Assessment and I was so impressed with it that I took the training to become licenced to use it in my coaching and team building work.  While a fairly standard four quadrant assessment, it uses the four natural elements (earth, water, wind fire) to identify each of the four main styles.  Of course the fact that I’m a biologist and environmentalist may have swayed my decision, but having used quite a few others Assessments I have to say this one stands out for ease of understanding and applicability and use.

Just reading a book or two isn’t enough however.  You need to combine your new knowledge with a scientist’s keen powers of observation to come up with the data you need to identify your own style.  You may already know a great deal about your own communications style, but may have never connected the dots to help you understand the implications of the information with respect to your dealings with others.

The good news is it’s never too late to start.  And even better, everything you learn that enhances your communication with others will continue to enrich your life in all areas. And what you learn will never be redundant – you can continue to build on your new knowledge for even better results.

To help you get started you can discover your “representational style”, which refers to how you best absorb information and/or respond to an event. There are now four different Styles: Auditory (hearing), Visual (seeing), and Kinesthetic (feeling) and Auditory- Digital (although the last one, Auditory-Digital is still not always included in the various online tests).  To see which you are, here is one of the many free online sites were you can take the Assessment:

To learn more about some of the Assessments that I use in my coaching you can check out the following page:

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, or just want to talk to me about it all, you can get in touch with me through my Contact page, or use my online scheduler (the link’s over to the right there).  Don’t worry, all initial requests to chat won’t cost you a dime – just your time.

And if you have a story to share on invisibility at work, please feel free to write about it below.  Sometimes just getting it off your chest can be the first step towards a better future.


Until next time – THRIVE on! :-)

Karen Switzer-Howse

Canada’s Premier Thrive Synergy Strategist