It's the classic double standard in the professional world: a man who takes charge is 'assertive' and shows 'leadership potential', where a woman is considered abrasive if she shows the same qualities. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But we can fall on the sword to prove our point, or learn to communicate in a way that allows our message to be heard more effectively.

I'll admit, this one is a little easier for me. I have a softer personality that I have to artificially toughen up a bit for work, so I have a bit of an advantage. That said, I still have my moments of course. Here are a few skills I've used to navigate those rough moments:

1) Focus on outcomes, not blame. Our natural reaction is to be upset when someone has messed up. However, that immediately gets them focused on defending themselves instead of solving the real problem. If someone made a mistake, calmly explain the negative impact and ask for their help in righting the situation. 

2) Assume positive intent. Most of us don't walk around trying to cause mayhem and destruction. When someone who's normally reliable seems to have done something impossibly lazy, inconsiderate or sloppy, there's a good chance there's something you don't know yet. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and ask questions to see their point of view. 

3) Catch people doing something good. People who feel generally valued and appreciated are much more willing to have honest conversations when something doesn't go quite right. Lay the groundwork with those you work so that they feel secure in knowing they're respected. 

4) Don't pretend to know things you don't, but don't dumb yourself down either. Being honest about what you do - and don't - have expertise in builds credibility and creates a safe space for your team to do the same.

5) Be authentic. Trying to adopt someone else's style is bound to backfire. These tips aren't meant to change who you are, just give you a few more tools to refine your approach. The most important thing is to show respect to those you work with and they'll return the favor.