At a meeting, even women in positions of power were less likely to speak up to contradict the ideas on their faces that suggested they were being misguided. But if you bring these women together outside of a mixed group, the energy and the dynamics would probably be radically different, because some would feel their confidence grow. It is disappointing in many ways – and it reminds us that women’s suffrage has not yet celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Numerous studies have argued that women are less assertive and less willing to defend a difficult position than men. For example, women are much less likely to negotiate. This reluctance may be justified, since women are often punished for adopting more energetic behaviors. For these reasons, one would expect that women would also more often retain their ideas for improvement. But, our data show that men and women are equally likely to retain comments from their managers.
Here are some tips on how to confidently speak up in public, even if you don’t want to:
1. Don’t aim for perfection.
People will just be impressed that you have the courage to say something. “The perfectionism we feel when speaking out of the blue is the most debilitating and limiting factor that keeps us from excelling,” notes researcher. “The person who just raises their hand often makes people feel more inspired than the person who says the perfect thing without that conviction.” And if you’re really shy or afraid of judgment, challenge yourself to do something small that feels uncomfortable or annoying in front of strangers to desensitize you.
2. Breathe before you speak.
The stress of speaking, even if it’s just asking or answering a question, can make your heart beat and make it harder to breathe and speak. It can also make you nervous, like some of the women reported in the study, so remember to physically slow things down. “A deep breath before the start of the presentation slows the heart rate. This gives us the ability to strengthen our bodies that everything is fine at the moment, �?says researcher. Breathe deeply by contracting the diaphragm and widening your belly when you breathe in, then breathe out deeply.
It seems that some women refuse to speak for or against a problem, whether good or bad from their own perspectives. She can manage dramas or conflicts by avoiding her gaze; it’s as if it went beyond the simple incarnation of the phrase “don’t see bad, don’t hear bad, don’t speak bad”, to the point of not seeing, hearing or speaking at all. Something is preventing these women from claiming a metaphorical statement – which poorly reflects their wisdom, experience and value within a group. Are there masks you wear with colleagues? friends? family? Do you feel the need to acquire a unique identity with specific groups of people? When a woman is concerned with showing the world what she thinks she wants to see, it begins to cloud her own self-perception.