top of page

Your simplest super power in communication

C3 | Communication Code Chronicle | October 24, 2024


Effective communication isn't just a skill—it's your secret superpower. For women in software engineering management, the ability to articulate your ideas and motivate your teams is crucial.

Welcome to our newsletter, C3, the Communication Code Chronicle, where we break the barriers hiding our voices. Together, we'll explore the art and science of communication tailored specifically to women in software engineering management.


It is Monday morning, 9:07 AM. The pings start ping-ing.

"Would you look at the pull request I submitted when you have a moment?"

"Could we quickly sync on questions about this next sprint?"

"Can you help get more server resources to handle the increased load from the upcoming release?"

Management is the role that gets squeezed to do more with less.

Today we learn how to change that. Today, we will build no into your everyday vocabulary.


1. Set expectations earlier than early

Saying no is much easier when you establish clear boundaries and priorities earlier than early. It allows you to manage expectations.

Take my template:

  • "In order to [big goal team must accomplish], we’ll need to focus on [the most important work at this time]. It's crucial we don't take on additional projects at this time.”

  • Example: "In order to meet the December 8 release date, we'll need to focus on clearing technical debt. It's crucial that we don't take on additional projects at this time."

2. Proof is in the pudding

When saying no, use objective data or metrics to support your decision. It helps you keep the no factual not emotional. Document your capacity and have your team do the same.

Take my template:

  • Summary of my current commitments and priorities:

    1. [Project/Task 1]: Description, Deadline, % of week

    2. [Project/Task 2]: Description, Deadline, % of week

    3. [Project/Task 3]: Description, Deadline, % of week

3. Reframe it

If you are struggling to communicate your boundaries as a manager, try mentally reframing them. "No" is actually an Empowered Refusal (credit: Vanessa Patrick)

What does that mean?

  • When the "No" is about YOU, not the other person, you are giving voice to what you value, believe, and care about.

How does this work?

  • Use "I don’t" VS "I can't"

For example, I don’t "take phone calls from 6-8 PM" or "eat chocolate cake” - this is about YOUR values, beliefs, or what you care about.

Using "I can’t" is disempowered and invites pushback from the asker and may result in you saying yes.

TLDR: "No" lets you publicly claim and state your values. Know what you care about, and honor it by saying no.

Remember, no is a full sentence, and your simplest super power in communication.

Let me know when you try these out. I would love to hear how it goes!

To your inevitable success,


bottom of page