Dames Speak in Their Big Girl Voices

I sat in a meeting recently, doing the same thing I do when sitting at a table in the local mall food court. I watch people. As my daughter would say, sometimes I’m a creeper. There’s something about behavior that fascinates me, so I study it. All the time.

In this particular meeting I noticed the typical introvert vs. extrovert issues. Extroverts dominate the meeting, introverts have brilliant things to say but never seem to choke them out before the foghorn of an extrovert blows them away. But I’ve always been most intrigued by how some women behave in meetings, and more women than I can count (not because there have been that many but because I’m horrible at math) have asked me to help them be more effective.

So here are a few tips:

  • Speak with confidence. Too many women speak in voices only dogs can hear. Then when nobody responds they sink back in their chairs and disappear. I wish women would always speak with their big girl voices, because their ideas are totally worth hearing!
  • Interject assertively. I’m not kidding when I say many women still raise their hands in meetings, waiting for permission to speak. You are not Horshak, and Mr. Kotter will not call on you even if you go “ooh . . .ooh . . .ooh.” Unless a ground rule of the meeting is to raise your hand to speak, don’t. Jump in and stop waiting or doing that thing where you gasp and open your mouth but somebody else gets the floor and you end up looking like a guppy gasping for air.
  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong. We all hate the red-faced moment when we share information that is incorrect. But it’s not the end of the world. If you retreat after sharing that information, you look weak. Great teams are all about ideas, both right and wrong. If you find out you’re wrong, laugh at it and move on. Or do what I do and spin it into the right answer :).

Those are just a few points, and I’m sure you have more — so please add your comments. Let me know if you agree or disagree. By the way, Dames have no problem disagreeing.