Have you ever had that creeping feeling of dread in a meeting, when the time is ticking by, the discussion is moving on and you haven’t shared your opinion yet?
It might only happen in meetings where you’re not the expert on the subject or when senior and intimidating people are present. It could be that not speaking up is a habit you’ve fallen into and now it feels too uncomfortable to break out.
One reason women find it difficult to get their voice heard in meetings is brilliantly illustrated in this metaphor by Havana Nguyen. She describes conversations as ball games and depending on the culture, the personalities and the group dynamics, the type of ball game (discussion) varies. For example:
• Tennis – complete sentences bounce back and forth between people
• Basketball – people spontaneously but naturally picking up the topic as it jumps and shifts around multiple people
• Bowling – people take turns, and everyone gets ample time to plan what they say and complete their sentences
• Rugby – where everyone is clamouring to get their say and sentences get cut off all the time
When women talk together we tend to play bowls or basketball, whereas men may prefer to fall into a game of rugby. Can you see how someone taking their turn to bowl won’t make an impact in a game of rugby?
How can you improve your ball skills?
Firstly, identify the game that’s being played. Which category of ball sport would you use to describe most of your meetings?
Secondly, decide on your tactics. Are you going to jump in and play the same game or are you going to wait and observe for an opportunity to contribute? Make sure your decision is based on authenticity and not just an excuse to avoid playing.
If you recognise yourself as a bowler in a rugby game and would like some strategies to help you get heard then do book a free Discovery Call with me and I’ll share with you EXACTLY how you can raise your game. You can book a call on my calendar at www.speakwithjo.com