Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast

Episode 023

Decoding Women’s Communication Struggle in the Workplace


In this episode, Dr. Crystal Frazee kicks off a new podcast series on the communication challenges professional women face and the solutions they need to navigate them from a series of communication experts. This show dives deep into the roots of how early life conditioning influences communication styles and asks you thoughtful questions to start to unwind the pattern.

In this series, she interviews guests on topics such as responding to being talked over, navigating biases, cringe-free self-promotion, and the solution to balancing assertiveness and likability, at home and work. Listeners can expect valuable takeaways and perspective shifts from this series, starting with Episode 023!

A picture of me with text surrounding describing episode 006 and the importance of authentic personal branding to help women stand out in a male-dominant world.


Quotes from the Episode 

“Gendered conditioning isn’t just holding us back, it can cause ongoing stress and that stress can make us sick. It’s costing us our career growth and our health.”

Dr. Crystal Frazee

“The emphasis on politeness over assertiveness in how we teach our young girls to communicate.”

Dr. Crystal Frazee

“It’s almost like when men speak, they’re immediately given credibility. Their potential to achieve something is granted without needing proof. But when women speak, they have to prove their credibility by meeting invisible and often evolving standards before they’re seen as credible.”

Dr. Crystal Frazee


00:00:43 – Overview of Communication Challenges
00:01:11 – Dr. Crystal Frazee’s Expertise and Approach
00:04:01 – Socialization Norms Affecting Communication
00:04:45 – Gendered Pressures in Communication and its Effects
00:07:05 – Personal Reflections on Gendered Conditioning
00:08:10 – The Impact of Gendered Conditioning on Health
00:10:52 – The Irony of Women & Communication Training
00:12:39 – Upcoming Series Topics and Guests
00:15:00 – Strategies for Effective Communication
00:17:50 – Invitation to Executive Roundtable Event

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FREE Leadership Resources from Crystal:

Get updates about Crystal’s upcoming book:

REVIVE: The Working Woman’s Unexpected Guide to Recovering from Burnout

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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.


Dr. Crystal Frazee:
Hey, so today starts off a new podcast series here at Attune Leadership for Women. I’m your host, Dr. Crystal Frazee, and over the next five shows, I’m going to be naming specific communication challenges women face, like being talked over, facing biases, self-promoting, and the struggle to strike the right balance between assertiveness and likability. No matter what industry you’re in, no matter what your job title, these are challenges you’re bound to experience. With each of these five shows, I want you to leave with a bigger picture understanding of why these challenges exist and what strategies you can use to resolve them at home and at work. Today’s show is the kickoff and I’m so excited. It’s a deep dive into the roots of communication challenges for women and an overview of what’s to come in this series.
I’m going to keep it short and sweet, but I promise that you’re going to be nodding your head in acknowledgement and taking away some valuable shifts.


Dr. Crystal Frazee:

Where do established and aspiring women leaders go to get answers to their biggest challenges, like how to deal with double standards, break free from hustle and burnout, drive change without being bossy, and how to raise visibility by doing less, not more? I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, your host and a women’s health and leadership expert and author. I’ve spent the past 15 years developing the answers to those questions. I believe that your body has all the wisdom you need and that without much effort, you can leverage it for things like faster, better decision-making, creating a magnetic presence for influence, and even navigating perimenopause so your performance goes up instead of down. In this show, I will teach you what traditional leadership approaches overlook, how to leverage your body wisdom to break free from time and energy traps, shatter barriers, dissolve the good woman programming that stops you from living on your terms, Level the playing field at home and work and be the most powerful leader you can be. Get ready to rewrite the rules of success and satisfaction using the practical strategies of attuned leadership for women.

Main Content: 

Dr. Crystal Frazee:
All right, we are going to get this party started. This is Episode 23, Decoding Women’s Communication Struggles in the Workplace. And I chose that name because it astonishes me that the idea that women are perceived as less confident as their male peers, and that that’s why their voices aren’t heard and amplified, persists. That doesn’t work for me for a lot of reasons.

First, sizing up someone’s confidence is like judging a book by its cover. You can’t tell from the outside someone’s expertise, dedication, or potential to create results just by looking at them. It’s a giant misconception, and we’re not going to stand for that one. But part of how we present ourselves is in the form of verbal and nonverbal communication. And as women, we need to make sure that we have the sharpest skills to make sure our communication has the highest likelihood of compelling others to action and supporting our success.

But let’s take a second to get real here, because we know that women do have communication challenges, or at least their voices being heard. And if confidence isn’t the culprit, then what is it? Go ahead and ask yourself, do you have an answer?

I think a good place to start is touching base on the socialization norms that have shaped most girls’ communication styles. I know I’ve covered this a lot, so this is just a recap. Two really big ones jump out at me right now.

The first one is the emphasis on politeness over assertiveness. in how we teach our young girls to communicate. And that leads to difficulty expressing authentic feelings and needs. And if I really consider the work that I’ve done over the past 10 years, it’s not just that it makes it hard to communicate, it actually makes it hard for those young girls who then become grown women to identify their authentic feelings and needs. It’s a problem.

Here’s an example in my household. While my daughters have no issues screaming at me until they nearly lose their voice when they feel like I’m being unfair about treats, especially, they hold back their voice while they’re at school or when they have to go to daycare. And even in a home with me as their mom, where I work really hard to minimize gendered pressures, somehow it’s already slipped in, it’s already ingrained, and my girls are only five and eight. On a regular basis here, I’m role playing with them on how to be more direct and how to be authentic with their communication with their friends, whether it’s standing up for someone else or dealing with some conflict themselves.

So take a second and consider how your early life experiences, the conditioning that you were exposed to, whether from your family of origin or culture or community, taught you it was acceptable to communicate. And then what wasn’t acceptable? Notice if you can remember the feelings or the words that you might have heard.

The second toxic gender norm that interferes with communication is the cultural pressure for girls to meet the social standards of femininity. And here’s what I mean by that. Like, when I go to take a picture of my super sweet five-year-old, she immediately tilts her head to the side. And I’m talking more than 45 degrees. And she’s also cocking a shoulder. It’s a posture or a pose that she’s performing. and I don’t know where she gets it from. It’s not coming from me.

I mean, in high school, I really disliked when my friends did all the posturing and performing so that they would be liked. But girls are groomed to basically contort themselves in their body language and their communication style to be feminine, to be soft and to be more passive, not to rock the boat. But unlike my girls, I didn’t have anyone coaching me to be more authentic in my early life with communication or telling me to say things as I wanted to say them instead of filtering it silently through a filter that no one talks about but somehow I had memorized.

Now, I will admit, I grew up in the rural South where good Southern Belles were pretty selfless, nurturing, and demure. You didn’t rock the boat, you didn’t start conflict, you really didn’t draw attention to yourself, and you didn’t step out of line. You stayed in line, and you smiled, and you said yes to just about everything. And my journey is partly why I’m so driven to disrupt the way women leaders think about communication.

I believe that the conditioning many of us received can actually hold us back. And not only that, but it can cause ongoing stress and that stress can make us sick.

What about you? What is the role modeling or the cultural conditioning that you’ve received about how you show up? And what about in your professional life? Did you have a role model that showed you a different way? When you haven’t had role modeling to show you, and you haven’t had the practice yourself to communicate your true unfiltered feelings, what happens is it doesn’t feel safe in your body to do that. Your mouth is saying one thing, but your body is unsettled inside. That makes it hard to communicate boundaries. That makes it really hard to communicate your big vision. and your ideas when all of that is happening inside your body. Part of what happened for me and my burnout journey several years ago, and you know, let’s call it the midlife shakeup is that I experienced how unchecked, that conditioning and that filtering and that keeping the real experience inside to myself really led to strong emotions, like anger, and sometimes just flat out rage. And taking those first baby steps to communicate, like I mean what I’m saying, like I’m fully present in my body when I say it. And as if I won’t accept anything less than full bodied presence from the listener as well, was scary. And it was hard. And there were times where my body and my words didn’t match. My message was all over the place, kind of hiding my requests behind defenses and subtle apologies. But by realizing I was doing that, and making it a practice, I aligned how I feel in my body with what I’m saying. So no wonder women hesitate to speak up. No wonder women get fed up with the double binds and feel some similar rage, potentially like I felt. I know I’m not alone in that. No wonder women get exhausted, have more depression and anxiety, have more inflammatory conditions than men, or have more reports of feeling burned out.

Gendered conditioning isn’t just holding us back, it’s costing us our career growth and our health.

So let’s also take a moment to point out the not so funny irony that this podcast episode, that you’re listening to right now, and the shows that follow in the series, which are pretty amazing, actually, I’m very proud of it, but they’re focused on how women can communicate successfully And the irony is that this isn’t a topic that many male leaders spend their time or energy needing to learn. You don’t see many male communication experts either.

Communication in itself is not equitable. Learning these skills is a critical women’s issue. And I’m putting up my hand right now to say, hey, Let’s do it you and me. Let’s do a better job with this. Let’s also role model for the girls in our lives. Let’s take initiative that we need to start this type of self leadership training in Girl Scouts or summer camps for our little ones.

Right now for you, if there’s a gap for you, that it’s really important that you sharpen your skills so that your body and your words are saying the same thing. It’s almost like when men speak, they’re immediately given credibility. Their potential to achieve something is granted without needing proof. But when women speak, they have to prove their credibility by meeting invisible and often evolving standards before they’re seen as credible. So how can we disrupt the challenges women face with communication right now in our workplaces and communities? That’s a question. What can we do about that? And I’m glad to say that we’re going to be dishing it up for you in this series.

Honestly, it’s skill development. It’s curiosity to learn something. And when you’re open to learn, that means you’re open to change. And you’re going to learn new skills, you’re going to try them on. And you’re going to take what works for you to develop those skills. Far too often, when a woman perceives a gap in their abilities, or they communicate and it’s not received, it gets internalized and the blame gets put on themselves, which holds them back even more. Let’s not do that with our communication, because the problem is right here in plain sight. I’ve just spent 10 minutes telling you about it.

I also want to call out that in learning anything, there can be some discomfort. So yes, let’s be jazzed up about this. We see the problem. We’re excited to learn the skills. And let’s also acknowledge that change can be uncomfortable in our bodies. And as a coach, I want to reassure you that the discomfort of unfamiliarity or uncertainty and vulnerability you may feel in your body, as you use the skills you’ll discover in the series, they’re going to be worth it. This is kind of the only time I’m going to use this phrase, “lean into it”.

Okay, so trust that you’re doing something new, something so important, and that any feeling of discomfort will quickly fade as you see that you’re met with feelings of connection and curiosity and excitement as your communication drives more actions for your ideas. Think of it as an “and” as you’re learning something new and trying these skills. Yes, sometimes new things feel uncomfortable, and it’s going to lead to change. And that’s how we actually get proficient. That’s where confidence comes from. It’s by like doing the reps of something new. Over this series, I’m going to be serving you with the skills you need on a silver platter to address not everything but the most common challenges professional women face.

I want to tell you what’s coming up next, because I’m really excited for it. In the next show, I’m covering cringe-free self-promotion with Anthea Rowe. And she is direct and to the point. And you can tell she’s a PR expert. And in our conversation, it’s understandable why women may hesitate to highlight their achievements. But there are ways to do it that will increase visibility and career progression. that don’t cause the criticism and backlash that we’re actually afraid of. That’s what we’re really holding back for. We don’t want the criticism and the backlash. And Anthea has a brilliant strategy that she’s going to share. And in the time that I’ve used this strategy, just since recording her interview a few weeks ago, it’s already had an impact for me. Then we’re digging into the specific skills to communicate so your words call people to action with communication expert, Alexia Vernon. She’s going to highlight the big ideas that will help your ideas stand out and compel others to rally with you, even if you’re the only woman on your team or in your business. I’ve trained with Alexia. And so I can’t say enough praise for the way she communicates these ideas, and how practical they are. But I can tell you, without a doubt for me that her wisdom has changed me at a cellular level. And you’re going to love these strategies as much as I do. So I’m excited about that. Next, I’m speaking with a negotiation expert who believes that negotiation isn’t just for compensation and benefits, but everyday life. Lucia Cantor-San Amor, and she’s going to help you strengthen your negotiation muscles to build your confidence with simple things like who’s doing the chores in the house. and how you’re paying the landscaper and every other everyday experience so you’re ready when the stakes are high to negotiate like you mean it. And she has the best sense of humor probably of anyone I’ve met in the past year. And lastly, I’m coming back. I’ll be on a solo show to talk about body language and leadership presence as a component of your communication. As you know, not everything you convey is through talking, and I’m going to help you elevate your nonverbal communication skill to powerhouse level. Really excited to share those ideas with you. And that’s it for today.

I would love to know what you’ve thought about, what I’ve shared, how this has landed with you, what ideas this has stirred. And just to remind you, I gave you an overview of some of the reasons women face communication challenges and gave you the big picture for what’s ahead over the next couple of months.

Before we sign off, I want to let you know that I’m hosting a free Executive Roundtable virtual event for 12 women leaders. who want to both elevate how their employees communicate and address their specific challenges to getting buy in for their ideas. This event is going to be Tuesday, March 26. And it’s called communication that gets buy in and compels action from teams and stakeholders. And you’re invited there’s no fancy sign up page, just message me on any of the platforms or at my email which is info at If you want to reserve a seat at my table, this is going to be a really fun and in depth peer to peer conversation with business owners and organizational leaders with teams on this topic. And we’re going to get specific into how to move you forward with this skill set how to overcome the barriers you may be facing.

And with that, thank you for listening. I write, record, edit, and publish this podcast all by myself to reach women leaders that are looking beyond just career success and want less stress and deeper life satisfaction as well. You can access the transcript, show notes, and links to free resources for each show at forward slash podcast. And I always want to ask you to take a moment if you haven’t to rate and review the show on Apple podcast, or to just take a second right now and share the show with a friend or colleague. Because when you do that, you’re helping me reach that mission of impacting change for women’s equity. So please take one minute after the show to do one of those things, leave a typed review, it means so much or share the show with a friend. and I can’t wait for you to take part in this upcoming series. It is going to be wonderful and full of ahas and perspective shifts. I’ll be back with the next show in two weeks. Until then, be well and stay attuned. Bye.