This article was inspired by Harvard Business Review Guide Series "Women At Work" with similar title, "Women, Find Your Voice". Opinions expressed in this article are mainly belongs to the original writers of said article, and some are mine. Any statements that were not mine will be cited. It will take 2-3 minutes to read this article.
Why women are so afraid to voice out their own thoughts? Is there any visible barrier that could be a blockade for them? Are there any solutions to this?
When I was commuting to the office in one Monday morning a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article in the HBR Guide Series called "". The remarkable piece of writing was wrote by, also, three remarkable women; Kathryn Heath (Partner at Flynn Health Holt Leadership, google it up!), Jill Flynn (also a Partner at Flynn Health Holt Leadership), and Mary Davis Holt (Senior Consultant at Flynn Health Holt Leadership).
Their main concern was that although women leaders were steadily increasing, their voice did not. They conducted a research by examining 360-degree feedback they'd collected on 1,100 female executives at or above the vice president level and surveyed 270 female managers from Fortune 500 organizations and discovered that communication is still the main problem between men and women, specifically for women. They were often shunned during meetings, were frequently described as sensitive and defensive when one challenged them, and often failed to assert themselves in high-level meetings.
Despite the fact that I was not in any position of a manager or a vice president of a company, I found this relatively interesting and relatable. During any debates with my colleagues or friends or relatives (a healthy and fair debate, of course), I tend to get panic whenever I feel like I am losing their attention and when they do not get my point. There would be a train of thoughts running in my mind, full with "what ifs" and "cover your emotions". Why are we so afraid of showing our true colors? How to overcome this?
"If I tell them this, would they think I'm smart enough?"; "If I speak up, would they even hear me out?"
The writers came up with three feasible solutions.
First,. What they meant by "pre-meeting" was, when you come up to an internal meeting in your organizations or with your clients, do come early and spend time connecting with other colleagues/your client before the initial meeting, to find support and truly understand what they need. If this was taken to an associate level, do your homework and come to the meeting with a sense. Try to find out the purpose of your meeting the night before, learn more about your client, prepare any questions if you have one, so it looks like you understand what is happening in that meeting room.
Next, prepare to speak. Better yet,. Speak up about your ideas; what you thought about a certain matter related to the topics of your meetings, whether it's about pitching some ideas for a commercial, an input for a more gender-equality working environment in your office, or perhaps a simple solution to the distribution of engagements in your team. You'll never know what's happening in your head during the meeting. It might be an exceptional approach that nobody has ever thought of.
Lastly,. When you pitch in some ideas, when you speak up in front of the whole room, be passionate on what you believe in. Be passionate and speak deliberately. Most men tend to think that women could not bring up their arguments or standpoints without crying. I'd say, we get up, stand up, speak up and prove them wrong. Not just about a meeting with clients; when you want to speak up in a talkshow event, an academic conference, or even a rally per se. .
Women, it's time to find your own voice.