Bryant University Professor of Marketing Stefanie Boyer leads a breakout session at the 2024 Women's Summit
Bryant University Professor of Marketing Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., leads a breakout session on maximizing the power of conversation at the 2024 Women’s Summit®.
Stefanie Boyer: How to avoid the 6 major conversation mistakes
Mar 15, 2024, by Stephen Kostrzewa
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Everything comes down to a conversation, noted Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D.,  a professor of Marketing, director of the Bryant Sales program, director of the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition, and co-founder of RNMKRS app. In her breakout session at the 2024 Women’s Summit®, Boyer, drawing from her research into the psychology of sales and experience in the field, shared some of the most common pitfalls that derail conversations and offered strategies for leaders on how to avoid them.

Whether we want to make a deal, secure a raise, find a solution to a problem, or even make a new friend, it all depends on our ability to communicate effectively, said Boyer, noting that the breakout’s theme, was a perfect match for the summit and its focus on empowering, supporting, and encouraging women to excel professionally, personally, and financially.

“This is about how to advocate for yourself and how to advocate for others,” said Boyer. “So many women are afraid to ask for what they want because they think, ‘I'm not going to get it anyways.’ But if you start to think about how you can be more successful in asking for what you want, then you're going to have more confidence going after it.”

During the session, Boyer demonstrated six of the most common communication mistakes, suggesting they could be remembered through the acronym “SPEARS:”

  1. Starting off wrong
  2. Pitching too soon
  3. Ears closed (Not listening)
  4. Absence of urgency
  5. Resistance management
  6. Self-centered asks

To combat these common mistakes, Boyer walked the attendees through different methods of maximizing the connections we form during our conversations, including building rapport, expressing empathy, and finding the “psychological truth” behind our interactions. They also learned how to deal with push-back, navigate awkward spots in a discussion, and steer wayward conversations back on track.

“If we can handle these things, we can make our conversations better and our lives easier,” Boyer noted.

Bryant University Professor of Marketing Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., leads a breakout session on powerful conversations
Professor of Marketing Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., offered tips on having powerful conversations with Women's Summit attendees.

The workshop included a variety of exercises where attendees worked with one another to put the lessons they had just learned into action, from practicing icebreakers to rehearsing telling each other personal stories using “trial closes” that would lead to increased engagement.  At one point, Amanda Whitman ’21, a former student of Boyer’s and now a brokerage operations senior representative at Fidelity Investments, was recruited from the audience to assist her mentor with a demonstration of active listening.

Spirited discussion soon gave way to laughter and camaraderie as the attendees embraced the energy of the room. After the session had ended, many of the women stayed behind to continue the conversation with each other and exchange information with their practice partners and form new connections.

That, said Boyer, is the true value of a good conversation. “The women here today come from so many different fields, but they all face a lot of the same challenges,” she noted. “By working together, we can all help each other get where we want to go.” 

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