Are You a Victim of Mansplaining?

If men interrupt and hijack your conversations, or you’re a man who does the hijacking and people are tuning you out, then you’re a victim of mansplaining. Do people, men especially, interrupt you and hijack every conversation you try to have? Or are you a man who does the hijacking, and you sense that people are tuning you out? Either way, you’ve become a victim of mansplaining. “What’s that”, you ask? While Merriam-Webster hasn’t included mansplaining in their dictionary yet, they’re considering adding it. Their website defines it as:

“Mansplaining occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”

A recent op-ed in the NYTimes by Julia Baird summarizes a number of studies and the ramifications of differing communication style between men and women. Here are some of her conclusions…

Women are accused of talking a lot, but social science has found that men are more likely to out talk women in certain circumstances, specifically in professional settings or in larger groups. They discovered that when the setting is more social or more collaborative in nature, women out talked men.

The differences aren’t only in the amount of time men and women spend talking. Men talk more directly and forcefully. Women are more likely to censor or edit themselves. They use phrases like “kind of,” “probably”, “might”, “could”, “maybe,” “um,” and “I mean.” They also turn sentences into questions, as if to ask “am I right”. They worry about being viewed as too aggressive if they speak up.

This shows that having a seat at the table is not the same as having a voice in the discussion. Women have been taught to be self-deprecating, to not make a scene, to keep the peace. So we may learn patterns of speech that minimize our power. As more women assume leadership roles, it’s imperative that we pay attention to our communication style and bring it in line with the positions of authority that we hold. If you do, you’ll find that most men really do want to hear what you have to say.

Perhaps long held thoughts and feelings are holding you back from being heard in professional settings? Or maybe you’re married to a man with a dominating communication style that stifles your ability to be heard? If you want to learn to communicate more effectively, as an individual or a couple, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for business and/or family relationships via a secure video Q & A session. This would come under the heading of Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

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