Time, 14 January 2015, Jessica Bennett
How Not to Be ‘Manterrupted’ in Meetings/ A guide for women, men and bosses
Manterrupting: Unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man.
Bropropriating: Taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it.
But thanks to Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton business school professor Adam Grant (a man!) we can feel just a little less crazy when we mentally replay those meetings gone wrong. In a new op-ed in the New York Times, they point out the perils of “speaking while female,” along with a bevy of new research to prove that no, this is not all in our heads.
Sandberg and Grant cite research showing that powerful male Senators speak significantly more than their junior colleagues, while female Senators do not. That male executives who speak more often than their peers are deemed more competent (by 10%), while female executives who speak up are considered less (14% less). The data follows a long line of research showing that when it comes to the workplace, women speak less, are interrupted more, and have their ideas more harshly scrutinized.
“We’ve both seen it happen again and again,” Sandberg and Grant write. “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.”
My friends have come up with terminology for it: Manterrupting. Manstanding. (Or talk-blocking, if you want the gender-neutral version.)
And the result? Women hold back. That, or we relinquish credit altogether. Our ideas get co-opted (bro-opted), re-appropriated (bro-propriated?) — or they simply fizzle out. We shut down, become less creative, less engaged. We revert into ourselves, wondering if it’s actually our fault. Enter spiral of self-doubt.
But there are things we can do to stop that cycle: women, men, and even bosses.
1) Acknowledge Unconscious bias: acknowledging that bias is an important step toward correcting it.
2) Establish a No-Kanye Rule (Or Any Interruption, for That Matter)
3) Practice Bystander Intervention don’t stay silent
4) Create a Buddy System With a Friend : Or, better yet, if you’re a woman, create a buddy system with a friendwho is a dude. Ask him to nod and look interested when you speak (when he’s interested, of course). Let him to back you up publicly in meetings. Seriously, try it. It’s not fair, no. But dammit, it works.
5) Support Your (Female) Colleagues: If you hear an idea from a woman that you think is good, back her up. You’ll have more of an effect than you think and you’ll establish yourself as a team player too.
6) Give Credit Where It’s Due: Research shows thatgiving credit where it’s due will actually make you look better (as well as the person with the idea).
7) Women: Practice Assertive Body Language: Sit at the table, point to someone, stand up, walk to the front of the room, place your hand on the table — whatever it takes. Not only do these high-power poses make you appear more authoritative, but they actually increase your testosterone levels – and thus, your confidence. In some cases, it may actually help to literally “lean in”: in one study, researchers found that men physically lean in more often than women in professional meetings, making them less likely to be interrupted. Women more often leaned away — and were more likely to be interrupted.
8) … And Own Your Voice: Don’t undermine your authority with “I’m not sure if this is right, but—.” Speak authoritatively. Avoid the baby voice (leadership and authority are associated with the deep masculine voice, not with a softer, higher pitched tone). And please, whatever you do, don’t apologize before you speak.