Hello SOTGC community,
I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. How many times have we been asked (or conversely, have we asked someone) for feedback, thought about or assessed the project/situation, given our honest opinion, and won an all expense paid trip to “silent treatment country with stops at dirty look and snappy response towns”….?
Only one or (if you’re slower, like I am) two of these experiences will leave you feeling like you NEVER want to express your honest opinion unless you KNOW it’s what the requester wants to hear. The above picture is of my brother and I 12 years ago, I was expressing “mild” irritation at his belittling of some of my ideas for the day, he seems nonplussed.
I know that I have been the receiver of such a situation, and to be quite honest I have also stamped some passports on the entrance to “silent treatment country.” Many times in our professional careers (most likely on a weekly basis) we will come across a project or situation where multiple ideas and ways to approach the project/situation are not only desired, but needed, to make sure we get the best result/outcome. Here is when the ego must be set aside, defenses must go down, “feelings” (focusing on Senorita Sensitive) must be stowed away, and open listening must occur.
Whenever I encounter a situation at work that I know needs to be navigated with careful thought and consideration, I will assess the past, present, and potential future outcome, come up with a plan and how to execute it, then I will reach out to several people in the company for their opinion (if time allows, oftentimes in my industry I have to make snap decisions and go with them that instant). I try and pick people who think and work in a similar way to me (if you pick people who do things completely different from the way you intrinsically think/work, their answers will always leave you feeling at odds with your choices). I also pick people who will NOT just listen to my full recount of what I plan to do and then simply agree. That does me no good, if I didn’t need their help I could simply just pat myself on the back and think “self…that is a FABULOUS plan and we are amazing for thinking it up.”
The first few times I did this, and got some feedback that started with “that sounds good, but did you also think of______” my initial response was to get defensive, fired up about how DARE they point out flaws in this perfect plan, and that I would NEVER ask for their worthless opinion again and would stonewall them if they ever asked for mine (yes…I used to be somewhat of a hot head in my youth).
However, as I have developed in my professional career and been more open to hearing suggestions on improving all aspects that needed fine tuning, I came to appreciate good honest, and constructive criticism. Now when I reach out to people for help and advice I consider closely what they say, and pick a few pearls of their advice to add into my plan.
I logged onto the Cornell University website to find some articles on “effective communication“.
This article is great because it provides links to multiple articles on skills that need to be acquired to become an effective leader and communicator. A large portion is dedicated to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which I recently read the book (EQ 2.0) and it has helped me not only in my professional, but also my personal, development.
One of the things I observe that is a BIG difference between most men and most women is the way they communicate and share ideas (before I get a bunch of disgruntled responses please note I said MOST). I’ve watched two men sit down at a sales conference and go over a situation that one account manager was having trouble with, hash out the details, come up with a plan, slap each other on the back when they are done and head to the bar for a beer. Then I watched two women do the same thing….quite a different story. There were lots of emotions that went into that conversation. I observed the body language of the story teller change from: eager, to defensive, to downright confrontational. The “advice giver” went from: hopeful, to more impassioned when they were met with defenses, to irritation for having been asked for their opinion when it clearly wasn’t wanted. Now this is not how ALL communication between women go, simply an example that happens to fit my point in this post.
The basic idea of all of this is that during effective and open communication with each other, we as women can offer some of the most amazingly creative and intelligent ideas on strategy and execution of plans, as long as we stow away the Alpha Female ego, and put aside overly sensitive feelings, and accept that other people are trying to help us and can offer some excellent feedback that can help our situation.
Marney Reid is a Marketing Program Manager for a global industry leader in medical device. She is also the Founder of Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. She has nine years of sales experience in male dominated industries and is transcending the Glass Ceiling by using her authentic value proposition as a competitive advantage.