Column by Janine Popick, Inc.com "Women in Business"
There you are, one of two women in a meeting room full of men, or perhaps in a loud bar one woman among four other men -- trying, trying hard to get a word in edgewise.
You try to speak, but Mike won’t stop talking. He’s got to get to the end of his sentence because he started one. He’s got a goal, and it’s to put the period at the end of the entire paragraph. You’ve got no chance.
A moment of silence occurs and you jump on it, only to have Bill start speaking over you, like you don’t even exist. You even start to speak louder to attempt to compete, only to lose, because Bill started his crescendo. You had no chance.
What can I say, Men? You like your points to be heard; don’t argue. In so many meetings you’ll talk over others (men and women) and raise your voices so that your point is heard loudest.
Years ago, I was being interviewed for a job. I went to the office of the start-up and they plopped me in the middle of a FIVE man semicircle. One would fire a question at me, and before I could answer another would answer it. If I was lucky enough to get an answer in edgewise, an extraordinarily loud conversation would ensue with each one talking over -- and louder than -- the other.
I ended up getting the job (a wonderful job), but was put in these situations on a daily basis. How could I possibly ever be heard? How could my voice rise above it all?
Here are a few tricks I learned -- and still use to this day -- to get a group’s attention and make my own ideas heard:
If none of this works, bring a bull-horn into the meeting with you. Then when the decibel levels rise, bring it out and join the conversation!