Andrea interviews leadership communication expert Judith Humphrey (part 2). Learn about imposter syndrome, communication differences between men and women, effective self-promotion, the leaders’ script, when we should apologize, and what to do when your boss suggests it’s time to demonstrate leadership. This is part 2 of a two-part feature (ep. 94 & 95) on “Taking the Stage: Communication skills for Leaders.”



 Judith Humphrey

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Taking the Stage by Judith Humphrey




Dr. Andrea Wojnicki & Talk About Talk 






Greetings and welcome to Talk About Talk episode #95, focused on TAKING THE STAGE: COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR LEADERS. I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!).


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Welcome to Talk About Talk episode number 95. This is the second of a two-part focus on TAKING THE STAGE: COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR LEADERS, where I interviewed communication guru Judith Humphrey, founder of The Humphrey Group. 


If you haven’t listened to episode 94 yet, I encourage you to listen to that first. But this episode really is to good stuff. You’re going to hear the second part of my conversation with Judith, and then you’re going to hear my summary. I’ll summarize for you new ways to think about things like self-promotion, imposter syndrome, apologizing, and communication differences between men and women.,  Yes, we’re gonna get into stereotypes!


Are you ready?  OK. We left off with Judith’s summary of her Leaders’ Script.  Do you remember what it was?  4 dimensions.  The grabber, proofpoint or main message, structure or supporting points, and last, the all-important call to action. 






…really when you think about it, that call to action, is translating your leadership message into activity is something that has consequences. So I found it to be very powerful. People really love it.


I encourage my clients when they’re going into meetings to think about what the what the meeting objective is, and then also what their personal objective is. And it’s not that they’re necessarily at odds, but it’s about being mindful about, here’s, here’s kind of the objective that we all share. And then, personally, this is the part that’s really important to me. So I think, actually having that mindset in the back of your mind, and then applying this framework also might might be very effective. And you could, you could, at the very end, when you do a call to action, you could relate it to the meeting objective, for example, but then also make sure that your personal objective is, is accommodated. So


it’s also going to be prominent in my next book, which is the job seeker script. Ah, when you think about the job seeking process, it’s a series of events. But another way of looking at it, it’s just a series of scripts, you need a script for your elevator pitch, if you should pass by somebody. Yeah. You need a script for your networking conversations. Yeah. For your resume, for your cover letter for your interview scripts for it for your answers to questions in the interview, and even for your post interview discussion about salary. So the book will cover all those scripts.


So are they scripts? Or are they frameworks? Like, are you actually memorizing what you’re saying? Or?


That’s a good question? I believe that the more you can write down what you’re going to say the better. Okay, so there are frameworks in the sense that the words come from the job seeker, I don’t provide the words, I provide the framework, the leader script provides a framework and it provides the template, but it forces people to structure what they’re saying. So that they make a point that they really tell their story in a way that’s powerful narrative. And do so at every turn in the job process. Yep. And you know, communication is so important today, more than ever, yeah. Well, I don’t have to tell you that. But I mean, when you think about the digital world, right? And we have so little interpersonal contact, we have to be that much clearer in what we say true, more persuasive, and what we say. And so this leader script will apply to every situation that anybody is in in a business setting.


So your next book is going to be focused on job seeking. And that relates to a question that I wanted to ask you about self promotion, and kind of what is it and if you have any do’s and don’ts, and I can imagine, you know, when when we’re applying for a job, and we get that coveted interview opportunity, we need to promote ourselves right way. So can you talk a little bit about that?


self promotion has two definitions. One is what I consider to be the way I think about it, and then self promotion can have a sense of Undertow to a lot of people, they don’t they they find it. Find it. Ugly. Yeah. And


that’s informative. That’s a good word. I like that they find it ugly. Yeah. But


it’s not. I mean, true self promotion, when you think about it, is when you actually speak about yourself in such a way that other people want more of you. They love what you’re saying about yourself. So so the ugly self promotion turns people off. So it’s not truly self promotion, is it? That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, it’s ineffective.


But true self promotion, is the process of delivering messages about yourself that move people that inspire in the case of job search, that inspire those who hire,


right, inspire those who hire right.


It’s another title for a book. But they so what is that? What is that secret recipe that we call true and effective self promotion? Again, I believe it goes back to having the right message about yourself. Yeah, it’s personal branding. Yeah. And then being able to develop that message in such a way it’s credible. So you might say, you’re in a job interview. And as you suggested, what do you say? You might say, your message would be about all the things you’ve done already, you know, I’m a seasoned it expert. That would not be good self promotion, because people are looking to what you can do in their company, right. So your message in In an interview, if you want to be truly self promotional should be what you can do for them.


Yes, very confident and empathetic message. Exactly, yeah.


And so, obviously, each situation is different. And you have to define your message, your self promotion message in a way that will move your audience. It’s empathetic in that sense, you’re always thinking, what is it that’s going to really move the room or move this person? Or have them believe in me? Yep. And, bad self promotion, it’s self aggrandizing. It has nothing to do with your audience, whereas true self promotion is messaging that reaches your audience and inspires them?


Yeah, I was thinking, as you’re saying that it’s about articulating the impact that you will make for them or on them, right. As opposed to, here’s what I can do.


Exactly. And if you’re in a meeting, and you want to be self promotional, it doesn’t mean you’re going to talk about yourself necessarily, it means you’re going to bring forward an idea that inspires people to believe in you. That’s what self promotion might not even be about you. It might be an idea that you talk about, it will give purpose to the team,


right? It could be a story of something that you did or even that you observed and interpreted and learn from


right. actly. Yeah, yeah. So you can take the eye on self promotion.


Interesting. Okay. Okay, so, so I’d like to focus, I guess a little bit more on some tactical communication challenges that many of us face. And the first one that I’d love to hear your perspective on is interrupting. And I don’t know, probably like me notice, especially when virtual meetings became the norm, all of a sudden, interrupting was actually impossible, because when someone’s speaking on Zoom, only one voice can be heard. And it’s tough to see people raising their hands or whatever they’re doing. So certainly, interrupting is rude. But sometimes we do need to interject. And so I was just wondering if you could give us a few pointers on how we can interrupt or interject in a way that is not offensive to begin with, I think you have to wait for someone to stop speaking. So interrupting is not a good thing. And there’s always a pause. There’s always the moment, the moment that that person finishes. That’s the perfect time to express your views. So another aspect of speaking well in a meeting is listening. Finding the moment of silence and interjecting your own viewpoint.


That is a very good point. And when people think about communication. They think about speaking, they don’t think about listening. And so maybe the next time it’s happens to all of us, we’re in a meeting and someone maybe kind of is taking way too much of the airtime and maybe they’re starting to repeat themselves. And it’s like they’re not coming up for air instead of thinking about it. rejecting focus on listening to what they’re saying, right? And then you’ll come up with the true added value. And you also will be able to hear when they pause.


Yes, exactly. That’s right. You’re so busy formulating your ideas and not listening. You won’t even hear the policy. And then you might end up interrupt values a


new answer to that question for me, Judith, it is I think it’s good. Yeah. Yeah. So my next question for you, is a little bit different. So, so changing topics here, as, as Canadians, and as women, I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotypes, we are often way too apologetic. So and I know that you’ve done training of men and and of women and mixed groups and in in Canada, in the US, and actually all over the world. So do you have any tips on us over coming this apology syndrome that we have, that some of us have


Andry? I could talk for hours about that? I bet. It’s just giving voice to the inner crow. Apologizing is essentially saying, I don’t belong on stage. I don’t really have a right to speak, but I’m going to anyway. Excuse me. Wow. And there’s absolutely no reason for it. And of course, it diminishes the impact that you’re going to have because apologizing thing I’m sorry. But I’d like to add something. These are all diminishing expressions. I’m sorry. It’s got to go the whole expression. I’m sorry. should go? Because try to think of it time when you really need to say I’m sorry. Yeah. You don’t need to attack it’s I can’t even think of a time when can you think of a time manager when you might say I’m sorry.


So your your example of being late. I was just thinking in my head. I have this saying that I came up with which is jargon is like profanity. We need to be aware of it. And we need to save it for when we need it. And I’m thinking I might add apologies to that list. Yeah. We need to be conscious of apologies in our language and in our communication, and save it for when we really need it. So yeah, if I was on a subway, and it got stopped, and there was a roomful of people waiting for me. And I walked in, I think starting with an apology and saying, I apologize that I’m 15 minutes late. Let’s get on with this and making a strong statement about like your everybody’s time is important, and that you want to be productive. And then getting into it. I think that’s an example of when maybe an apology is is fine. But I hear for example, particularly women, and particularly Canadians, in a meeting will say, I’m sorry, can I say something? Oh, yeah. Well, if you can’t, then why are you here?


I agree with you on that one instance of apologizing. Yeah, if you’ve held people up, yeah. You have responsibility to say something like that. I agree. That’s true respect for your audience. But the other thing shows disrespect for yourself.


Right? Very, very well put, you will be quoted on that, Judith, I promise you. So related to this questioning about about men versus women communicating in your book, taking the stage, you highlight how some successful women talk about how hard they work in perhaps too much. And you talk about Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Jessica Parker and Marissa Mayer. And it reminded me of some academic research that I actually I was at in a leadership conference hosted by Harvard Business School for leaders leadership skills for women. And one of the faculty members there was talking about some research that she’d conducted recently with a whole bunch of academics. And they interviewed successful women and one of the Common themes that came out of these successful women was how they all shared this narrative of how hard they worked. And I was wondering if you have any comments about this, like, do you think it’s helping us to talk about how hard we work? Or is it related to imposter syndrome and that CRO, like are really badly


is, is probably related to the fact that we want to prove ourselves. And so we constantly refer to the amount of work we’ve produced. But work doesn’t win us any points. In fact, it wins us more work. So losses will pile work on women, because we are able to finish it, and do it and not complain about it. And whereas men delegate much more. And that’s a vast generalization, it doesn’t apply to every man or every woman, of course. But it’s really true, I saw that in my business life, that the women would be happy to take on work. Because it kept them busy, and show to the world that they were valued. But the men felt their value came from delegating. Interesting. So the fact that we brand ourselves as workers is not going to ever get us into any large career position, because the higher up you go, the less actual work you do. And the more conversation you have, the more communication you’re doing, the more meetings you have, but you don’t do the work.


So that that reminds me of another question that that I would love to get your perspective on. See if you agree, so I’ve had this conversation with a couple of my clients about how earlier in your career, learning the technical expertise, the processes, depending on the industry that you’re working in, of course, those are the skills that are probably at the top of the hierarchy are prioritized in terms of what you need to learn. As you mature, your tenure increases, and you become more senior in any organization, your communication skills themselves may become more important. Do you agree?




you do? Well, I think the higher up you go in an organization, the more you need to communicate. Because you have teams and groups of people that report to you directly you have colleagues across the organization you have to relate to, you have bosses. And if you’re a VP, for example, and you’re reporting to a C level executive, you’d better know how to communicate with that person. And it’s an art, you know, when you’re when you’re a junior person in an organization communicating means you let people know what you’re going to do. You do it and you show that you did it. Yeah, that’s true. It’s, it’s about performance of tasks. Yep. But as you get higher up, communicating is about listening, doing much more listening, asking questions, yeah. Walking around walking the room, where people work, asking them about their work. So it’s really checking in with people. It’s letting people speak listening to them responding to them. Somebody asked me recently. This is a person who is in his early 30s. He’s got a big job already. But he said, you’ve worked with a lot of senior executives over your career. What advice would you give me about changing my communication style? And I go up the ladder?


It’s a great question. Yeah,


it was really great question shows you he’ll go places. Yeah.


Sometimes the question really reveals everything. Right, exactly.


So I thought about it. And I said, the thing that will change, if you’re effective, is you’ll want to speak less and listen more as you go up the ladder. And so that’s what I would advise to anyone listening to this podcast, I should go higher and higher. Draw and other people listen to them, ask them questions, because your success is going to depend upon them. Right. So that’s a whole communication strategy for upper level.


Absolutely. So in a couple of the podcasts that I’ve done, focused on listening skills, I encourage people to track the ratio to literally or consciously think about, How much am I talking versus other people. And then I say true leaders will do that not only of themselves versus everybody else in the room, but they’ll also track the ratio of other people at the table and encourage people who haven’t spoken up to speak up,


But it’s true that, for example, in job interviews, if you talk less than the interviewer, you’re more likely to get the job.


I talked about that a lot. That’s true. Yeah. I’m talking to you and I have the same thought bubble over. That’s funny. That’s funny. Okay. So I want to go back to, I guess the differences between men versus women when they’re communicating. And I’m curious, in your experience, what do you think the most common mistake is that women may make? And then also that men may make when they’re communicating?


But women diminish themselves in so many ways? And of course, best generalization? Yeah. But this is the reason we in the Humphrey group launched the program called taking the stage. They had global reach just incredible number of women. Over half a million women took this program. But it shows you that there’s something about the way women communicate, it’s different from the way men communicate. And when I first realized this, I was sitting with a client in a coaching session. And what she was doing was wrapping herself into a small ball. Oh, so her arms were closed. Her legs were crossed. Her head was down her shoulders were a little bit hunched. And she was speaking in a meek voice. I said, this is not something I saw among the men. Yeah, Coach. So making ourselves small is the way I put it. Yeah, shall small in terms of body language, in terms of our voice, our voice, we raise the voice? Or speech? So we’re asking your question? Yeah. At the end of the sentence, yeah. So we diminish our voices, instead of grounding our voices. We make furtive eye contact. We smile too much. We speak with caveats. You know, I could be wrong. Sorry. Only it’s only a thought. So we diminish ourselves, make ourselves small in so many ways. And so I would say, in terms of body language, voice, language, expression, women need to be bigger, have a bigger onstage presence.


So would you say that the that men maybe need to dial it back the other way, as you were describing this woman physically sitting across the table from you, I was thinking it’s the opposite of the man spread, right? Like the guy that separates his legs and leans in, and he’s taking up as much space as he physically can.


And that’s really an interesting topic in itself. Yeah. Because not all men do that. Yeah, of course, not all women make themselves small. So these are generalizations. But if you were to find a parallel or look for a parallel between what women do what men do, or antithetical, look at them. The men traditionally, and I think that’s changing. I think it really is changing that men are different than they were 10 years ago, 15 years ago as leaders,


but in a good way, in a good way. Yes. Yeah.


I would never assume that men have one style, and women have another style, because things have changed. They’re much stronger women, and more understanding men, collaborative men, I’ve been really impressed with the transformation on both fronts. So I, I think that men, the men, I know, the men I’ve worked with, are really doing their greatest, to be more inclusive, more collaborative. But what I like about the way men speak, is they show a level of confidence. And I think women need to show men show strength in their thinking, they’re not afraid to bring their thinking forward. They’re confident enough not to use a lot of filler words or caveats. And they assume that people are going to listen to them. And that people are going to act on what they say. So I like that style a lot. And I know in the past, there’s been an exaggeration of men speaking out maybe too boldly, too loud, too big. But I don’t see that as much. And I see men being almost well, I shouldn’t say this. almost a mile. I mean,


yeah. So it sounds as if what you’re describing is what we covered a few minutes ago, in terms of it’s the ideal self promotion. Yeah. But I really love your point about their default mindset is that people are gonna listen to Yes, exactly. It’s a very powerful mindset to have.


It is a very powerful mindset. Men assume that they’re going to be heard, and that their leadership messages are going to be understood, and perhaps even followed. 


So, before so before Judith, we get to the five rapid fire questions, I just want to finish off with one question that I’m really curious to hear your perspective on. And that is that when I first started doing when I first started talking about talk, I was very emphatic that the number one communication superpower is listening. And since then, over the last several years, I’ve modified that to be that there may be three, there may be three communication, superpowers, listening, confidence, and storytelling. I’m wondering what you think about that.


I think that they’re all truly important. Listening is the beginning of everything else. So you can’t speak well, unless you listen well. And I think that should come first, as you stated. Storytelling is the means of getting your ideas across. It’s, it’s increasingly important. And in fact, I’m listening to a masterclass on storytelling, really good. Confidence comes from another place, so we can listen. Because we know it’s good to listen. We can tell stories, if we learn how to structure scripts. But confidence comes from a deeper place. And I always say it’s the, it’s the reason we speak up at all. I mean, it’s on a different plane, from listening and storytelling, interesting. It’s not a technique. It’s a state of being hmm. And it’s so important. We’ve talked about it today in this interview, Andrea, but confidence is something you have to delve deeply into your soul to get. And even some people are born with it and Bournemouth greater amounts of it. Other people have to go through their life, building their confidence in the ways we’ve talked about, you know, speaking up when they’re afraid. And it’s not just a female thing, that confidence, I once had a client was a VP. And he said, every time he raised his hand to speak in a meeting with their other executives, he got really scared. But he did it. He told his story. He listened and everything worked out. So you see what I mean about confidence on a different plane?


Yeah, that’s a very interesting point. I agree. And again, you’re going to be quoted on that. That is, you’re making me think about things in well, you and I share so much in terms of our passion and our expertise and our innate focus on this topic of communication. I really enjoy talking to you about the stuff I have to say. And now we’re going to move to the five rapid fire questions. Are you ready?


I’ve so much enjoyed this session. I hope the rapid fire doesn’t.


It will test you but just say the first thing that comes to mind. Okay, question number one. What are your pet peeves?


I don’t really have any really nothing that honors me. Except listening to people diminish themselves. That would be the only thing from the communications point of view when people undercut themselves. And I just published an article pass company on caveat. caveat. It comes from the word beware. Yeah. So you’re warning your audience not to take you seriously. That upsets me when people do that? Because it doesn’t look good.


So even your pet peeve is focused on communication. I love it. Yeah,


I don’t really have anything else. I’ll think things.


No, no, that’s okay. Okay. Second question. What type of learner are you?


That’s something I’ve never discovered I probably learned from all this. I think I you tell me you know more about this than I do?


Well, to be honest, most of us are all of them, but some people. So I do find that I am all of them. I mean, I’m a podcaster obviously, I’m an auditory learner. I listened to a lot of podcasts. But I’m really, if I had to choose one, probably a little bit off the charts in terms of visual. I’m often grabbing a sheet of paper and I’m drawing I’m illustrating a concept. Yeah, yeah. Question number three. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?


I’m both. I mean, I mean, right in the middle of the two I have been tested for this. As an extrovert. I really enjoy talking to people and getting ideas people. But as an introvert, I enjoy a quiet mind. So I noticed my husband loves to listen to podcasts, and he’s always reading the newspaper and always absorbing information. I actually don’t like to do that, to my mind. I like to keep it open. So if I’m walking, I don’t want to hear anything. If I’m walking, I want to think.


Okay, next question. Communication or media preference for personal conversations.


I always say phone is the best for me phone because at least is a real voice. Yeah. I use instant messaging more than I ever did. But it’s, it’s immediate. That’s one of the great things about it. But it’s not human. It’s not personal. It’s not personal. There’s


no tone, there’s no expression.


Just emojis.


Okay, the last Rapid Fire question is, is there a podcast or a blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending to people the most lately? Well, of course, I’ll recommend this one. Your podcast,


particularly this episode, oh,


no, all the episodes I know. I want to hear all the episodes. But I’ve been listening to the masterclass series. I’m a member of the master class. Right now. There’s a two for one special. It’s amazing. Yeah, you get to see these fabulous people. Ringo Starr, for example, teaching drumming. And I’m listening to one, an author who teaches at Bard College, talk about storytelling, the art of storytelling, right? These are so fascinating, not only because these people have such a storehouse of wisdom to deliver, but they speak so well. And their body language and their just their whole speaking style is wonderful. And you learn from it. So


you’re you’re learning from the content that they’re delivering, but you’re also observing their communication. So it’s kind of like a meta mask leads for you. Wow, that’s a great recommendation. Is there anything else you want to add Judith about communication skills for leaders?


Well, I think you do a great job with these questions and podcasts. And you’re hitting all the all the right notes in terms of what we’ve talked about today. There’s nothing more I mean, we could spend another few hours if you want.


I agree. I agree. We’ll do that after our talk here.


It’s been so enjoyable. Thank you so much. Thank you for bringing me on.


Thank you for your time and for sharing your expertise. It’s fantastic. Thank you so much!



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