Review: Speaking with Sense, Sex, and Soul

By Rachel Cansler, Intern

Educational psychologist Loretta Redd, PhD, owner and CEO of Crisis Navigation Executive Coaching, Santa Barbara, spoke at our November 2 meeting on Speaking with Sense, Sex and Soul. Dr. Redd offered her wisdom on overcoming communication difficulties in the digital age, as well as when talking with the opposite sex and doing effective public speaking.

Dr. Redd opened her talk with a personal antidote about attending her family’s Thanksgiving dinners when growing up, humorously recalling the various communication styles around the table. She commented how we have entered a fast-paced technology age in which people are unable to present their ideas in speech or writing as effectively as they once did. Helpful tips for communicating in the digital age include never e-mailing when upset or sad, thinking twice before sending a message involving private matters, reducing the “volume” by omitting unnecessary exclamations and bolded or capitalized words, and being careful to write short, concise messages. Also, Dr. Redd explained that there is a huge difference between communicating across a computer screen and communicating in person. She recommended that for every two hours we spend in front of the computer, we should engage in ten minutes of actual face-to-face communication.

Dr. Redd also covered what to say and how to say it when communicating with the opposite sex. Providing a logical explanation for why males and females interact and communicate differently, she described how male brains are linear, while female brains act more like pinball machines, bouncing back, forth, and around an idea. Men, she remarked, often speak in order to get something done, while women linger on a subject until the conversation has reached a satisfying conclusion for them. Men deem “yes” and “no” as acceptable answers to any questions, and do not require nor ask for additional input from others when resolving an issue. Women, on the other hand, don’t quite know when to stop in seeking and offering opinions. In these ways and more, Dr. Redd proposed that men are from Twitter, using short and sweet phrases to get the job done, and women are from blog, providing long explanations and posing many questions in order make their point.

Touching on the topic of public speaking, Dr. Redd suggested that fears stem from elementary school—the first time we answered the teacher’s question incorrectly in front of the entire class. That initial embarrassment, she believes, is the root of the anxiety that occurs when we go to express our own or an opposing opinion in front of a crowd. Women, it seems, have more trouble than men when voicing their views in an articulate manner.

Dr. Redd summarized by giving us the three steps of effective and empowered communication: preparation, direction, and conviction. Prepare for public speeches by knowing your topic inside and out, practicing relentlessly. Have an obvious direction in your talk that an audience can easily follow. And finally, always speak with conviction on a subject that you are passionate about.

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