women be heard

Women Be Heard

This week I was struck by how many times the topic of "speaking up" came up in my discussions. Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to focus this article on this very important topic for women. Many times when I was one of the only females in a room filled with men, I did find it hard to speak up and some times when I did speak up, my suggestions fell on deaf ears. Also, how many times did someone tell me to "Speak up. I can't hear you!" Was it me or the way I approached the situation?

The answer was a little bit of both! As women, sometimes we find it difficult to speak up when others in the room have louder voices and seem more confident. We doubt our beliefs or point of view and appear timid in out approach. We also might feel that we aren't being listened to or that on a particular subject we might get caught up emotionally in the topic. What can we do and what were some of the tips I learned to be bolder and to speak up to be heard? I'd like to share these lessons learned with you. Hopefully they might help you to be more confident, speak up, and be heard!

  1. Practice makes perfect. As the saying goes, the more times you try something no matter how difficult, the easier it becomes. Taking a risk is really challenging the first time (and speaking up in a room filled with out spoken men can be intimidating) but the more you do speak up and work on techniques to be heard, the easier it gets. My confidence did grow as I become more comfortable voicing my opinions. Also, when I brought my passion to the topic, I found I had more energy and more volume to discuss the topic. The more timid you present a suggestion; the less confident others feel about the proposed solution.

  2. Calm, Cool and Collected. As the saying goes, "Just the facts Jack." Learn to instill a quiet confidence in your point of view. Have confidence in your convictions but don't get so tied to them that they become you. If you go on & on & on... your message is lost. There is no right or wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own point of view. So try not to take things personally. Now that is much easier said than done, but when you do feel frustrated or your emotions start coming into play, step back, take a deep breath and tell yourself that this is just an idea you are sharing. It's generally not life or death (though when I was in the Air Force there was a few of those situations!). Even in those more critical situations being calm, cool and collected can really pay off.

  3. Separate. As I said in #2, your idea is your point of view but is not what you are all about. So remember that the discussion is not all about who you are. Sure the ideas come from your vantage point and from another vantage point there might be some great ideas too. So, learn to keep the idea separate from you. Be prepared to learn from others and hear about new possibilities that maybe you didn't even think about.

  4. ss is more. I think sometimes as women we want to explain things to our detriment. At times this is where the emotions come into play. We tend to be more emotional. By stating an idea, linking it to the value it potentially brings, and closing, you present your position in a strong, confident manner. Also, if you feel you aren't being heard, be direct and say so. Hit the problem head on. Don't grumble about it afterward. Put your idea forward and let the process unfold.

  5. Respect. At all times you want to show respect for everyone's point of view. Go the higher road whether people are paying attention or not, and listen to what each person is saying. Don't rush right in to defend your position or talk over others to push your idea. By really actively listening, you might also come up with an even better idea than you started with based on a new possibility that someone else spoke about. Therefore, don't get ahead of yourself and just focus on your proposed solution. Show each person the respect you would want for yourself.

  6. Move on. Sometimes you will be faced with people who just don't listen or want to hear what you have to say. Fine. Go ahead and state your idea, position, or thoughts. Do your part. You can't make everyone else do theirs. Set a good example for others to follow. You might not think you are making an impact but if you keep following these tips, I have found out that in the long run you will be heard and respected. Respect yourself and know you gave it your best shot. Don't run and hide. Do speak up. Control what you can control.

  7. Build Rapport. I know it's hard to present ideas when you are not comfortable with or have a rapport with those you are in discussions with. I was at a conference this past weekend and while the women there were wonderful, it was intimidating at the start of the conference to speak up and be heard. But, as the conference went along and I got to know the women, it became easier. So, get to know the individuals around you and establish that rapport. Find out what they care about and what their passions are. You will get more comfortable with being able to present your ideas and others will be more open to them when you take the time and make the effort to establish a connection.

  8. Ask Questions. Sometimes just by asking the right questions, you get others in the room aligned with your ideas or point of view. So ask yourself, "What questions should I be asking to get others involved in supporting my idea or that I need to know to help resolve the situation?" Thoughtful questions can really establish credibility and a willingness to understand, to be open to new ideas, and to be more engaged. This shows concern for the topic and not just for your solution.

I'm sure you have some great tips as well on "being heard." Share them with us and help mentor up and coming leaders to be confident women warriors! I know you have it in you, so speak up and be heard. We are listening.