I have been reading a lot over the last few years about communication and have been fascinated by what the books share as differences between men and women in this area. I have begun to make adjustments and pay closer attention to my habits, like not raising my hand to speak, watching my posture and what I am doing with my hands and my stance.
Yesterday, I slammed the table and stunned the room. Today, I am trying to figure out whether that is me and whether it matters or not. It was a safe place and I was fascinated by the result.
The setting was a non- profit board meeting for which, as a member, I was asked to facilitate. We are an all volunteer team and working on this board has provided a safe place for me to hone my leadership skills. The board is diverse. Of the 4 men and 3 women, 3 were born outside the US. I was facilitating a topic and the conversations were intense and veering off track. This particular conversation needed to move forward. After allowing everyone in the room to have their say, people again started talking over each other and getting off track. I slammed the table with both hands and said, “Hey, we need to move on.” The room got silent and we were able to mov
e forward with the meeting.
I never did that before and was fascinated with the result and the feedback.
At the next break, the feedback was very positive from Western (US and UK) colleagues. They said it was effective, it brought everyone back and they thanked me. A Far East colleague had the polar opposite reaction and advised I don't do that outside of a safe environment and went on to tell me to “be myself.” A colleague from the Middle East chimed right in and said, I think it's cultural” and we went on to talk about how America is viewed outside the US. I wondered if it were a man hitting the table whether the feedback would have been the same.
It was so interesting.
What tweaks are you making in your communications at the table these days?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.
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