This past weekend we saw the power of the collective voice – the Sisters March on Washington, and all over the country and the world. Unfortunately I could not march, but I watched the videos and saw the pictures of women and men vocalizing what they believed in with their voices and signs. It brought tears to my eyes to see the collaborative efforts, the creative signs, the caring actions between marchers and peace protectors. I was greatly encouraged by the pictures depicting those that had brought their children, showing them it is OK to stand up for what you believe in. It was truly a magical sight.
Now that the marches are over, there are many initiatives to keep the movement going forward, and I recommend finding your community in your community to sustain your passion and continue to be heard. But what if you are in a one on one situation, and you want to be heard? A subtle example from my own life experience…
I worked in the Sears hardware department for four years. Over that time I learned about the tools from helpful co-workers, could recite inventory numbers by heart, and new the entire layout of the department like the back of my hand. One day a man walked up to me and was about to ask me a question. Then he changed his mind and said, “Is there a man in the department? I have a question”. Now I knew he figured a girl like me couldn’t possibly know anything about tools. So I went and got him a man–a guy who started about a month ago. I introduced him to the man and slowly starting walking away, knowing what was coming. And sure enough the “new guy” walked over and asked ME to answer the man’s question. So as not to embarrass the new guy, I told him the answer and let him relay it to the man. It was a win-win. No confrontation, I trained the new guy, and the man got his question answered and we most likely made a sale.
Now that story had a happy ending, and I was more concerned about helping a customer and co-worker than schooling the customer on how women can know just as much, or MORE about tools. But what if, for example, while getting coffee in the break room a co-worker tells a misogynist joke to other co-workers. Or a political discussion breaks out at a dinner party and you want to present your alternative viewpoint. You may want to speak up, but you are afraid if you do you could be considered a buzz-kill, or people will avoid you, or a confrontational shouting match will break out. The Ted talk by Adam Galinsky below provides excellent background on why we might not speak up and simple ways to do it in a civil, respectful, and effective way.
My intention for you is to find your voice so you are prepared to speak up AND be heard. Isn’t 15 minutes of your time worth that?