If you find yourself being interrupted by your male counterparts at work here are a few active tips to help your voice be heard.
Last week’s NYT article about, “The universal phenomenon of men interrupting women” really hit home. We hear from many of our female clients that they struggle to be heard over their male counterparts. Seeing Senator Kamala Harris battle being interrupted by her colleagues while questioning Jeff Sessions proves no one is immune. Much ink has been devoted to dissecting why this happens. Some articles that are worth a read here, here, and here. So it’s definitely a thing. That happens a lot. What can you do?
EMPLOY SHINE THEORY.
Having your idea shot down only to have a male colleague pass it off as their own later in the same meeting = FRUSTRATING. Also sometimes referred to as “amplification”. It involves women repeating each other’s ideas during a meeting to help ensure they are heard. It also can aide in preventing other men from claiming the ideas as their own. So ladies, circle up before that next staff meeting and strategize in advance! (For more of a deep dive on Shine Theory take a listen to the interview Leah and I did with Mavenly’s Women, Work + Worth podcast.)
ESTABLISH YOUR BOUNDARY UPFRONT.
Before sharing your comment it can help to articulate your desire (and right) to finish your thought to the entire room. This will help avoid creating an uncomfortable situation by singling out the culprit in front of everyone else. This is especially helpful to have in your back pocket if you’re going into a meeting with someone who has interrupted you repeatedly in the past. Preface offering your idea with a version of the following. “I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular issue and I ask that you hear out my entire idea before responding.”
ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED.
Chances are if you are constantly being interrupted you are not facilitating the meeting with the offender(s) in question. Find a quiet moment to speak confidently with the person who is. Communicate your frustration and ask for their help diffusing any interruptions in the moment. Sometimes we feel others should inherently understand what we need instead of explicitly asking for it. You may surprised to find your boss or team leader hadn’t even noticed the issue. Oh and people like being asked for their help.
AVOID UPSPEAK & DROPPING THE ENDS OF YOUR SENTENCES.
‘Upspeak’ refers to phrasing a declarative thought as a question. You’re essentially going up in tone at the end of your sentence when sharing a definitive opinion or idea. It’s a way we assert ourselves when we want to seem amenable and non-threatening. It’s also a surefire way to detract from your power. Conversely, dropping your volume at the end of your sentence results in the same effect (and emanates from the same place of self-doubt). Own your voice! Finish your thought with authority and conviction.
Being thrown off mid-thought is a deeply nerve wracking experience. If (or when) it happens take a moment to take a breathe, center yourself, and recalibrate your thoughts. Dwelling on the fact you were just interrupted throughout the rest of the meeting is a waste of your focus and energy. Let the moment pass (you’ll effectively deal with it later using the awesome tips you now know about above!) and soldier on. Don’t give your interrupter more power by letting them disrupt your thoughts as well.
Finally, suffering in silence helps no one-least of all you! Share your challenges with us @bespokenNY. Or drop us an a line and let us know about your experiences trying out any of the above tips.
Does a rising tide really lift all boats? Ask Bacardi Limited’s C-Suite Team.
Last October S.H.E.Summit took place here in New York City. It attracted over 200 entrepreneurs dedicated to empowering leaders in pursuit of gender equality in the workplace. S.H.E. Summit founder Claudia Chan, uses the term “macro-movement” to describe the amalgamation of social movements working as a team to ensure women and men are treated fairly. Chan’s vision is one where leaders in the workplace use their voices to rise up in the face of gender inequality. And in doing so lift each other up in the process.
Claim Your Seat at the Table
The most memorable moment at S.H.E. Summit happened during the panel, “Breaking Barriers in Male Dominated Fields.” It featured Zara Mirza, Head of Creative Excellence for Bacardi Global Brands and her boss, Michael Dolan, CEO of Bacardi Limited. Mirza described how a fleeting moment signified one of the most important turning points in her career. At Mirza’s first meeting with the senior leadership she walked into a large board room. The room featured a ‘u’ shaped table. She went directly to the far end to take her seat.
As the new person (woman) on staff she unconsciously elected to set herself off to the side. She figured she should wait until it felt ‘appropriate’ to insert her voice into the conversation. She didn’t want to seem pushy or presumptuous to her new colleagues. However, no sooner had she taken her seat when Dolan’s assistant came over and whispered in her ear she was to sit next to him at the top of the ‘u’. To paraphrase Mirza’s retelling of this moment, “Michael opened the door for me but I f**king walked through it and I’ve never looked back.”
The Power of Choice
Dolan is creating a space in which Mirza feels her voice is wanted, desired. In turn she’s empowered to realize her full potential and he sets a precedent other male leaders in the company as to how they should treat their female colleagues. Dolan shared with those of us in the audience that day that the choice to create an environment where everyone’s voice is equally valued helps him too. It helps him maintain a competitively healthy workplace. It secures Bacardi’s role as an active player in the movement to achieve gender equality in the workplace. And most importantly, makes him feel thankful that he is able to use his power as a CEO – and as a white man -to help even the playing field.
Having difficulty advocating for yourself? Start by advocating for others.
Even though you may not be the global CEO of an international brand, I still think there is immense value to be derived from this story. Have you ever found it’s easier to extol the virtues of a friend or colleague rather than sharing your own accomplishments? I certainly have. Many of our clients feel this way too. Sometimes it stems from a fear of being boastful. Or feeling unsure about how to talk about your strengths (hint: Bespoken can help with that!). Or a previous negative experience you had speaking about yourself in public.
Yet no matter where you are in life, or where you work, look around. I wager you can find at least one place you can use your voice to create space for someone who may be lacking the room in which to find theirs. Maybe it will be during your next staff meeting. Or at dinner with friends. Or at your next family gathering. Regardless, you will be pleasantly surprised the power to be derived from choosing to be part of the macro-movement and in your own way, in your own time, help all of us trying to move the needle towards a world where all voices have equal weight.
We are thrilled to be partnering with Changemaker Chats!
Changemaker Chats are intimate, invite-only Q&A style events with women who are changing the world all over the country. We always leave a Changemaker Chat with a pocket full of good advice from women leaders and a bunch of connections with changemakers from all industries. Join us on October 25th for a Changemaker workshop and Own Your Voice. Register here.
From Changemaker Chats:
We are so excited to host a special Changemaker Workshop with Bespoken. Bespoken is passionate about helping women speak their story, find their voice, and own any room they enter. In this interactive, on-your-feet workshop, Changemakers will receive a hands-on practicum in vocal and physical technique that will position them to speak with conviction and confidence. Each participant receives in-the-moment, personalized feedback and leaves with improved understanding of how the power of tone, breath, physicality and presence can empower them and their story.
Ready to own your voice? Register Here
When: Tuesday, October 25
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Where: 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 28th FL
Own Your Voice:
Speaking with Authority and Conviction
Fact: A study from Harvard, Wharton, and MIT found that men’s voices are perceived as more persuasive, fact-based, and logical than women’s voices, even when they are reading identical pitches.
Here’s where Changemakers x Bespoken comes in. Bespoken is a communication coaching and presentation skills training organization that is passionate about helping women speak their story, find their voice, and own any room they enter.
In this interactive, on-your-feet workshop, Changemakers will receive a hands-on practicum in vocal and physical technique that will position them to speak with conviction and confidence. Each participant will receive in-the-moment, personalized feedback and will leave with an improved understanding of how the power of tone, breath, physicality and presence can empower herself and her communications.
Key Takeaways Will Include How To:
- Make powerful vocal and physical choices
- Confidently and comfortably own your ideas
- Engage an audience of one or many
- Harness nerves and tackle discomfort associated with public speaking
Inspired to help people own their voice and be heard, Bespoken was founded in 2014 by Leah Bonvissuto and Jackie Miller. Friends who met in acting school a decade before, Leah and Jackie channel years of professional theater experience into developing techniques to help people speak their story with power and precision.