Interruptions are a part of our daily lives. Oftentimes, nothing ever goes as planned! I’m sure we all have several interruption anecdotes. But today, I’d like to share with you a particularly notable one regarding Supreme Court Justices. Studies have shown that many male justices are now interrupting female justices at double-digit rates per term. And get this, the reverse is almost never true! In the last twelve years, during which women made up an average 24% of the bench, 32% of the interruptions were of the female justices, but only 4% were BY the female justices. What these studies reveal is that, on average, women are interrupted THREE TIMES MORE than men are!
Interruptions can be humiliating, hurtful, and above all, disheartening. However, when we see this happen, we often don’t want to intervene, for fear the same thing may happen to us. We all know how easy it is to feel like our contributions don’t matter. Therefore, if we know this, shouldn’t we work towards sparing others from this feeling? As a leader, it is incredibly important to value every single opinion, regardless of who it comes from or what is being said. Great leaders know how to utilize everybody’s input!
Be aware of reactions.
Peter Drucker says, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” This is incredibly profound because when others speak, they’re really telling us a full story. When we cut others off in that process, we fail to see the picture they were trying to create for us. We as an audience miss out on their full expression and can completely alter the energy of the room. Once the conversation is taken off track, it can be incredibly difficult to reestablish rapport. All in all, it is important to be aware of the effect interruptions have on others and the environment around us.
Listen to anything and everything.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen”. Believe it or not, listening is a skill that so many people don’t have. In order to truly make an impact on others, we need to be able to fully comprehend their story. Remember, there is a big difference between hearing and listening.
Below are a few ways to advocate for yourself and others while putting a stop to interruptions.
- Take Responsibility for Ourselves — Keep in mind we are all guilty of interrupting. Nobody’s perfect and sometimes we are at fault when it comes to cutting others off. Having self-awareness and being able to acknowledge our mistakes can only lead us on a path of greater empathy. Show up as a great example of somebody who can listen and support!
- Let Them Know! — The next time you’re interrupted, you can let them know! You can just kindly inform them that you’re going to go ahead and finish. Women’s opinions matter! God has given you a strong and unique voice so don’t be afraid to use it! You have things that nobody else has, so go on! Share that with the world.
- Stand Up for Others — If you see another woman being interrupted, interject! It could be as simple as saying, “I’m sorry, could you please finish what you were saying? I’d really like to hear it.” Feel free to stand up in that moment and advocate for that person who deserves to be heard.
- Acknowledge Others for Their Contributions — Often when we’re advancing in our careers, we have a myriad of ideas and visions. However, if we don’t receive validation on those ideas, it can be really disheartening. Recognize each other’s contributions and build each other up! A little encouragement can often make all the difference.
Another fantastic quote comes from the great Stephen R. Covey who says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. My challenge to you today is to ask yourself, “where do I see this in my own life”? Pinpoint those moments where you listen only to reply OR see others who do the same. It’s up to each and every one of us to make changes in our own lives that can collectively change the narrative. Let’s make women’s voices heard!
To read more about this topic, be sure to check out my full Facebook Live here! Thank you all so much. You’re Only One Plan Away!
- Get clear. If we’re not clear about where we want to go in our career, then we won’t be able to share this direction or vision with our managers. That’s why it’s important to take some time to think about what it is you really want and where you’d like to be in the future.
- Make a plan. In life, we’ll go through different seasons and stages, and looking to the future will help us decide where we need to go or want to be. The beautiful thing is you can always change your destination, but having a plan will actually help you get there. Once you know where you’d like to go in your career, it’s time to map out what that looks like and how to get there. In my online course as well as my book, God’s Not Done With You, I tell people to create a Career Advancement Journey where you outline the position opportunities you want, the responsibilities of the job, and the type of training you’ll need. Don’t worry about the skills you don’t have currently or how little you feel you know about your desired position. Eventually, you’ll acquire the skills needed for the job over time — just like you always have in the past.
- Talk with your manager. The next thing you’ll want to do is talk with your manager. If you haven’t shared with your manager where you’d like to go in your organization, chances are they’ll never know. I know a lot of times we want to be recognized for the skills and talents we possess and all the hard work we do every day, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If your goal is to be chosen for a position, then your best chance of making that happen is to share your plans with your manager. In fact, if you’re transparent with what you want out of your career with your manager, you can be recommended for strategic projects in the future. I suggest checking in with your manager frequently to have a regularly scheduled meeting about your progress, especially now when fewer managers are tying reviews with career advancement discussions. These meetings can be done monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly!
Having your Career Advancement Journey written out will also help you consider whether or not certain projects recommended to you are actually in alignment with your advancement. For instance, if your boss gives you additional work, knowing where you’d like your career to go will help you discern whether or not this additional work is beneficial to you in learning needed skills, gaining more insight into the division you’re hoping to advance to, or if this is just busywork that anyone could do that may keep you stuck in the long run. Understanding which projects are worth your time and effort is just one benefit of mapping out your plan for promotion and puts you in the driver’s seat of your career.