Imagine the scene: You’ve rushed round getting your children ready for another day of home schooling, the dog has had a raced walk and now you’ve hardly had time to get ready yourself. You fall into the zoom room of your first meeting, feeling rushed, overwhelmed and distracted.
Then your boss asks you a question. You know you know the answer. But you’re still caught up in your own to do list at home. And your voice falters, you don’t know what to say and a stumble of words fall out. Then your colleague jumps in and the moment is gone.
You’re annoyed, angry and ashamed, kicking yourself as you try to get through the rest of the day. And it’s only Monday!
Have you felt it before too?
- That frustration of not being able to get a word in at all for all the make voices.
- Being talked over or interrupted so you give up, it’s just too hard.
- Not speaking up for fear of getting it wrong or not disagreeing for fear of how it’ll be perceived.
- Being blindsided or being challenged by a onetime supporter and backing down
I know I have and hated being talked over or not being able to own my part of the meeting, that I was the expert of and had worked so hard on.
But are you helping yourself to share your voice to make the impact you know you can? Or are you too easy to give up? Or back down too easily? Or do you constantly change who we are to be noticed, in the hope for promotion rather than ground into ourselves and be noticed for doing it your way?
To make the shift and change needed now more than ever to drive positive change in the corporate world, women need to speak up and be heard. You need to be heard and speak up.
You have a voice and it’s waiting to be heard, to be set free to change the world!
Without your voice we’re losing, expertise, understanding, empathy and your magic. It’s down to us to create opportunities and keep driving to be heard.
Why do we not speak up?
I spent 16 years in the corporate world and as my career grew so did owning my voice. But at times I’d still swallow my own words and lose opportunities.
- The good girl
We’re brought up to the good girl, to fit in and cause no trouble. That is being a good woman, not being too much of anything but fitting in with what people expect of us. If you have not read it, this is at the heart of Glennon Doyle’s Untamed … go read it.
- The want to please
Our brains are hardwired to care more about others first, the part of our brain that is focused on care, connection and love is bigger in women. So we can all too easily give so much to everyone else and forget ourselves.
- The need to fit in
It’s scary to break the mould, I know for me when I left the corporate world mum and dad were disappointed “you were the one we didn’t worry about” … although now they are my biggest supporters.
- The fear of standing out
The fear that if we stand out, speak up and step into the arena that we might fall or fail. So we just slot back into line, as the living truly and deeply is so scary, the fear of failure keeps us small.
And it’s also backed up by science. From recent studies men were shown to speak with more confidence, generally speak MORE and ask more questions. The authors of the book The Silent Sex found in research that men out-talked women even when the group was 60% female.
And this brilliant Ellen Perty article highlighted how much women use the word “just”, downplaying their impact and with a subtle message of subordination.
So how can you speak up more?
- Watch your language
I don’t mean swearing, although I do love a swear. I mean stop apologising, for a mistake or for taking up space. You are invited into and have a place in the conversation, own that. And stop downplaying your impact, with using “just” or not shouting about your achievements and progress. It’s not arrogance, it’s promoting yourself by owning your brilliance.
Inspired action: Become a guardian of your own voice, choose your words to speak to yourself more carefully … if you need
- Set boundaries and start saying no
Start to say no, when it’s not your job, when you have no time say no … it’s a no to that thing now, not to that person or for forever. The more you respect your value and worth the more others will see it too.
Inspired action: If you need to practice saying no to yourself first, just in a mirror or to something easy build that no muscle.
- Block out the noise
There will always be office politics and banter, the boy’s network is still alive and well BUT you can choose how you get involved. Be aware but choose where your time and energy goes. Stop the noise and those distractions.
Inspired action: Think about where your time and energy goes, what are your biggest distractions and how can stop them?
- Do your homework
If you’re going to a meeting be prepared and ready, know the subject and what YOU want to get from it and what challenges you might face to get there. And if you need to get some support for your ideas beforehand and have evidence to back up your opinion.
- Come back to your values
Think about your next BIG meeting, who do you want to be in that and how do you want to show up? What impact do you want to have?
6. Try the 5 Second Rule
As a recovering over-thinker, I LOVE the the “five-second rule” by Mel Robbins— when you get a gut feeling to speak up in a meeting, you must act on it within 5 seconds. If you wait any longer, you allow fears or insecurities to temper with and kill your confidence. Your brain may talk you out of speaking up.
Inspired action: Try using the 5 second rule at home and in smaller meetings see how it feels for you.
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