The fifth session of the Women in Tech Coaching Circle || Use your voice and be heard! met on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-June. It was held in one of the many Breather spaces in Toronto, which was a first for us. This was a perfect setting for getting out of the daily routine and inviting new perspectives on life and who we are as women in tech. It was definitely the best discussion we’ve had yet! We explored how to be your own advocate in a way that upholds your integrity and authenticity. Below you will find a simple 3-step communication practice we shared with our participants. It’s intention is to build a deep sense of self awareness, confidence, and resiliency so you can use your voice and BE HEARD!
As coaches in this community we have the privilege of meeting many smart, capable, confident women leaders. In our conversations we have noticed an unfortunate trend. Many of these individuals talk about their opinions being dismissed or receiving harsh criticism for how they communicate at work (ie. “You are too emotional”). So often the advice to many women is to adjust feminine communication style to fit within a predominantly masculine environment. While there is proven benefit to what communication experts refer to as “code switching”, there is also research which suggests that unconscious bias puts women at a professional disadvantage, no matter the approach. We have been longing to find out more and bring this discussion to the coaching circle.
Once we began, the perspectives present in the group varied. Some see the progress that’s been made by women leaders and have high tolerance when things fall short (“We’ll get there!”). Some are fed up and have little tolerance when things fall short (“It’s 2018, why are we still talking about this?”). While others are fed up and expect things to fall short (“I’ll believe the change when I see it”). No matter the perspective, we have a shared hope – to redefine what success looks like and how we will get there.
We started with a powerful exercise which we first role modelled. We asked everyone to imagine their wisest self, or their best friend and to take time to reflect on these questions – “What do you know to be true about me?” “What do you see in me that you want more of?” We then asked that everyone turn to the person next to them and acknowledge, out loud, the answers to those questions. It was moving to witness each person acknowledging themselves and owning who they are at their core, at their most powerful. Each was using their voice to take a stand for themselves. It is a powerful and transformative exercise. We recommend you try it out!
We then moved on to the 3-step practice:
Step 1: Let’s Acknowledge YOU
- Take a minute to tap into your highest self/best friend/wisest self. Breathe. Meditate. Get present.
- Ask yourself a question that allows you to acknowledge yourself. For example:
- What do I know about myself to be true?
- What do I see in myself that I want more of?
- Acknowledge in an authentic way. (e.g. I acknowledge that you always look for the best people. I love that you are so driven, smart and extremely capable.)
- Say it in front of a mirror. Say it silently. Journal it! Share it with a trusted person.
Step 2: Understand the Context
- Understand YOU
- Personality Type: Introverted? Extroverted? (e.g. Does speaking to a larger group give you energy or take it away?)
- Values – What defines who you are? What can you just absolutely not stand?
- Understand WHEN
- All the time?
- Some of the time? If so, in what contexts (e.g. board rooms? Meetings with a certain person?)
- After you reflect, start to notice the patterns.
- What do you need to mitigate what you feel when you stay silent?
- Bench strength: Who do you trust to give you feedback? Who knows you so well?
Step 3: Find your Boundaries
- Now that you know, what are you going to change?
- What value(s) need to be honoured here (e.g. standing up for the underdog, connection, etc.)
- Prepare as you need. Rehearse. Get clear on your main point(s).
- Then, ask for what you need.
- Close with affirming who you are and who you are becoming. Write it down and look at it/say it daily.
- Examples: I love and accept myself completely; I am resilient to meet anything that life gives me.
After having spent 90 minutes exploring our voices and our boundaries, we asked everyone to answer one question: “From this place, what’s possible?” People in the group shared that they felt “inspired”, “powerful”, and “energized” and are excited to bring this energy into their lives and work. One individual shared that the new tools we explored has shifted their perspective and they see many more ways to effectively use their voice and be heard!
Here are some fabulous resources that we used to dive deep into this topic:
- Courses on Best Practices for Communication – http://audreynelson.com/topics/
- Communication Styles of Men and Women at Work (1 minute)
- Masculine and Feminine Ways of Speaking (1.5 minutes)
- Audrey Nelson – Balancing Masculine and Feminine Styles (7 minutes)
- Deborah Tannen – Conversational devices and how women and men communicate
- Dr Daphna Joel – Scientific Differences on Men and Women (Perspective of Brain/Neuroscience)
- Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are (21 minutes)
- Differences in How Men and Women Communicate – (some of these sources are from spiritual leaders, no implication beyond sharing useful data is meant or implied)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDHQjpwc_xk (7 minutes)
- Brene Brown – Rising Strong (foundational tool: stormy first draft)
As a heads up, the Women in Tech Coaching Circle is on summer vacation! We’ll be back at’cha in September with more juicy topics to explore! Are there topics you’d really like to see added to our lineup? Reach out and share!