Stand Strong—Serenely: A George Washington University study reveals men interrupt 33 percent more often when talking to women than they do with other men. Moreover, it isn’t just men doing the interrupting—women disrupt other women more often than they do men. So, as a woman, you’ll be experiencing a lot of interruptions in the process of voicing your position. Don’t let anyone roll over you. Firmly, serenely, with no negative energy in your tone and a smile on your face, say: “I’m looking forward to hearing your point… just give me a minute to complete what I was saying” or “I’m interested in listening to your idea. Just let me finish.” As long as you continue allowing men (and women) to override your ideas, being an influential decision-maker anytime soon is unlikely.
Succinct, Short Sentences—Please: We all have a far shorter attention span than in years past as a Microsoft Attention Spans Research Report reveals. It seems we’re golden listeners for about 8 seconds—less than a goldfish which is 9 seconds! Added to this, men are more receptive to bullet points, and to a briefer is a better approach. Prepare ahead of time to present your ideas in concise sentences that are crafted to hold your audience’s interest. By tapping into this style, you, also, eliminate pausing mid-concept, thus removing the possibility of interruptions. A two-fold result!
Don’t Repeat Yourself: During discussions with male executives, one of their primary complaints regarding women is they keep repeating their ideas in meetings over and over even after receiving a “no.” This strong-arm style irritates women as well, so if you’re one of those women who reasons saying the same thing a different way will achieve a different response…. STOP. I’m not saying give it up…. I am saying give it up, so you can strategically fight another day. You’ll gain more traction with this line of attack.
Who You Be: If you’re making a significant point, look the decision-makers in the eyes. It’s difficult for someone not to take note of what you’re saying, when you’re holding their attention with all your being—confident, direct eye contact, lowering the tone of your voice, modulating the pace of your speaking a bit, as you hold your body with self-assurance. A University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling study discovered: When you spend a mere 30 percent of your time making eye contact, it added to a significant increase in what is remembered. That’s less than 20-seconds out of every minute! Additionally, you might even deliberately lean your body toward the receivers for a moment to gain their consideration, not with anxiety instead with calm, certainty. Who you be is just—if not more—critical to being heard as your message.
You’re the Source: Women complain men steal their ideas. That when they present a concept, it’s rejected out-of-hand only to have a man offer up the same proposal, seemingly as a newly, fashioned notion to instant rave reviews. Such grievances are uttered so often; truth appears to be dripping all over it. If after the fact you attempt to claim the accepted concept as yours, you sound like a cry-baby or snarky or small-minded. You’re a source—be confident in your identity. Wherever you go, you source ideas. It doesn’t take long before everyone realizes this and invites you to their meetings. Loudly trumpeting your greatness doesn’t serve women well. Knowing the value, you bring to the table does.
Step up. If your brain has ever said it isn’t worth all the effort and you listen—you’re not giving your best to either your career or your company.