During a recent webinar presentation, Own Your Voice, Change the World, someone posed a thought-provoking question. They asked how to make your voice heard in a male-dominated organization.
For any men reading this, this is not about male bashing. It is about the importance of owning your voice in your context. This is an important skill for both women and men. It is important for each of us to own our voice and find ways to add to the conversation in the context where we find ourselves. Doing so allows us to make an impact in our role.
Time to Move On?
If you can't be heard after intentionally working to be heard, you need to recognize it and move on. But before leaving, make a concerted effort to be heard. Your voice may be the one needed to break the pattern of not listening to your message. You were hired by this organization; therefore, someone saw something you could contribute.That needs to be brought forth. Certain people may not want to listen or it may be that the way you're presenting the information is counter to the way the leaders can hear it.
How do you overcome feeling unheard?
Trust that you have an important contribution to make. Someone brought you onto this team because they believed you could make a contribution. Own that fact. Stand out in that space. Speak up and speak into opportunities you have to make a contribution. Figure out the culture in your context so you can be heard.
Identify your allies and mentors in the organization. Build a network of partners to make a bigger impact. In reality, there are no superstars that don't have a team behind them. No one works alone and makes the level of impact that they can make working with others.
Who will support you in being heard? Who can mentor you in the ways of the organization? Who will be completely honest with you about your strengths and growing edges so you present yourself and your message in a way that can be heard by those in positions of authority?
(Note to the men and women more experienced in the marketplace: Your role as a mentor and ally for those who need to learn how to use their voice cannot be overemphasized. Each of us had others pour into us. Find ways to pour into those coming behind you. Pay it forward and mentor those who will lead in the future.)
Obtain feedback on how you're perceived by others. Some feedback can be challenging to receive. Just because it's challenging doesn't make it untrue. The host of the webinar where I heard about women struggling to be heard made some suggestions that are important in dealing with issues of context. These are simple, but if you're struggling to fit in, you may be blind to them.
Here are her suggestions:
- Take a seat at the table. Don't take a chair outside the inner circle. (If that means getting there early, do so.)
- Speak to the points on the agenda. Contribute your thoughts and insights. Remember, you are at the meeting to participate.
- Speak with confidence. Notice the words used by those in authority and follow their lead. Use words such as “I believe” rather than “I feel”. State what you know as a fact; you appear more confident.
Especially for women, how we show up and interact with others can shape our career path and how others perceive us. No one gets a pass for aggressive behavior, nor can we be timid in our interactions. Both ends of this continuum will not get us the outcomes we are looking for.
How do we move forward? How can we make the impact we desire?
One way to move forward is to find others to support us. The Activate Your Masterpiece Mastermind kicks off the week of June 11. Registration opens on March 19 – that's next Monday. If you're interested in being part of the inaugural group to increase your impact through focusing on your Masterpiece Work, click here! You'll be the first to know that registration is open. Seven individuals will become a community to explore their Masterpiece Work over 12 weeks. It's going to be a great experience!