Women in Boardrooms

This blog is part 3 of 5 of blog series Storytelling: Women in Boardrooms.

In this blog I share strategies to overcome Manterruption. If you want to know what is Manterupption please read our previous blog.

It is important to start with an understanding of why is a man interrupting? Men often perceive women to take things personally and overreact as per Barbara Annis mentioned in her book Same Words Different Language

Identify if they are helping out or butting in?

Interruptions fall into two basic categories.

“Collaborative interruption” is when someone jumps in to express agreement, or reinforce an expressed idea.

“Intrusive interruption” is an intrusion that changes the subject, redirects the discussion – or hijacks the conversation entirely. Clearly it’s the latter that feels most obnoxious, but how we perceive the difference between the two can be subjective.

Needless to say if it is a collaborative interruption one must recognise it and take in their stride but intrusive interruption needs to be addressed and here are some ways that can help with that

Push Back

Women should push back if they are interrupted for any other reason than clarity.

You might stop the interrupter by saying you have a few more points to make, and asking that he or she wait until you’re done. In addition, women might make small tweaks to their behavior, including speaking in shorter sentences, physically leaning in when they speak, maintaining eye contact, and using firmer language (“will” instead of “might,” or “know” instead of “believe”).

Get ahead of the problem.

Before you even start speaking, set the expectation that you want to get through your ideas: “There are a number of factors that lead to this suggestion, so please bear with me as I give the context. When I’m done, I’ll be happy to hear any reactions.” Setting this mini-agenda can avert interruptions before they happen.

Hold your ground.

Keeping the floor sometimes requires quickly and politely calling out an intrusive interruption. Simply drawing attention to the interruption by saying, “please let me finish”, can be enough to halt it. Or you can acknowledge their intent by saying, “I know you have ideas to share here, but first I’d like to finish my thought.”

Enlist amplifiers.

Top female aides to President Obama created a strategy they called “amplification.” When a woman made a key point in a meeting, another woman would repeat it, giving credit to its originator.This both prevented and called out interruptions in male-dominated meetings, and ensured that the woman in question was recognized for her contribution. Read our blog on this topic here 

Take it offline.

If all else fails, talk to the interrupter privately and share the impact of their behavior; they may be surprised to hear it. Addressing the problem head on, if done constructively, can go a long way to solving it.

By dealing with interruptions directly and positively, you can ensure not only that your own voice is heard, but also that there’s space for effective, respectful communication where everyone can have a say.

Research Resources :

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2017/01/03/gal-interrupted-why-men-interrupt-women-and-how-to-avert-this-in-the-workplace/#6fa2303017c3

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