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When recent research* revealed that women receive less credit for speaking up in the workplace than their male counterparts, we took note.
It has long been a concern than women’s views are not perceived with the same gravitas as men’s. Kyle Emich, who conducted the research, said: “Correcting the problem will take effort and the conscious attention to biases against women in the workplace.”
So, how can we tackle this issue on a day-to-day basis? Here’s five practical ways to make your voice heard in a credible way.
Start with a positive
Whether recognised or not, in many cases we can unconsciously start conversations with negative comments, such as ‘Sorry if this is silly to ask’ or ‘Apologies for butting in’. We should not be apologetic for our views, but instead confident, assured and certain that our contribution is as important as anyone’ else’s in the room. Starting a statement with an apology already starts you on the back foot, so give extra consideration to how you initiate conversation, and start with something positive!
In America, when women in politics felt that they were being ignored, or cut out of meetings, they turned to ‘amplification’. One of the strongest empowerment examples, this involves other women repeating and reinforcing positive messages made by other women in meetings. In doing so, not only does it show support in numbers and boost credibility of the speaker, but it prevents men from claiming the idea as theirs – a common complaint with many women in business.
Facing conflict may not come naturally to everyone. However, it’s important to be able to stand your ground and articulate your points clearly in situations of difference. If you’re an introvert by nature, and prefer to be reflective and observant, a tried and tested approach is to prepare and research your subject ahead of the meeting, and think about what you may want to say or ask.
Stand your ground
If you end up in one of those meetings where you’re constantly interrupted, your view is not considered with the attention it deserves, or conversation is being monopolised by another colleague, here’s how to address it.
After being dismissed or interrupted repeatedly, regain the floor by using some forceful yet direct words that let others know you’re not going to be ignored, such as:
“I know we’re all keen to share our thoughts, but I’d like a moment to complete my earlier thought…”
“Thanks for your view, but may I add the view that…..”
“I’d like a moment to complete my thought, as it’s a relevant point….”
“I’m conscious that Emily is keen to share her thoughts. When she’s finished, I’d like to make a further point if you don’t mind.”
Contrary to what you might think, speaking first is a good way to gain confidence at work and in meetings. Making a contribution early on, whether it’s to introduce yourself or simply ask a question, helps relax you into the environment. Nervous speakers may find that leaving it too late to air their views, builds their anxiousness.
If you have experiences you’d like to share, or have questions you’d like to ask other likeminded women returning to work, visit our forum click here – exclusively for HireMyMa members only.