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Women share tips on effective communication

Make sure to discuss your positive outcomes. Don’t get sloppy in emails or too informal in discussions. Try to meet your colleagues and clients in person. Leadership often means consensus building.

A panel of four women lawyers shared those tips and others at a St. Louis breakfast forum hosted by Missouri Lawyers Weekly on Wednesday in front of a crowd of about 40. The topic of discussion was how to win through effective communication.

The panelists were: Catherine Hanaway, formerly a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri and a former Missouri House speaker; Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Russell; Carrie Hermeling, Husch Blackwell’s St. Louis office managing partner; and Nancy Hamilton, deputy general counsel at Monsanto Co. Heather Cole, senior reporter for Missouri Lawyers Weekly, moderated the discussion.

Hanaway said men and women may explain results differently.

“Men always lead with the good news, or at least the men who are effective in developing clients and retaining clients,” said Hanaway, now a partner at the Ashcroft Law Firm. “I do think women can learn something from men in that regard.”

Russell said that when there’s a disagreement among the Supreme Court judges on some part of a court opinion before its finalized, “it’s the female judge [who] maybe massages the conversation more, recognizing the other person’s point of view but then expresses what her difference is.”

“Maybe women are sometimes a little more sensitive to another person’s feelings, and I think that’s very effective,” she said.