This was first published on KSL.COM
I have noticed lately that many of the men at work and in other meetings I attend interrupt me, cut me off, or talk down to me and the other women in those groups. I am just curious to know if you think there is anything we can do to garner more respect and/or change this? Should we say something when this happens or try to ignore it?
Women are often talked over, interrupted or shut down in conversation, especially in environments where they are outnumbered by men. A study from George Washington University found that men were 33% more likely to interrupt women than they were to interrupt other men.
Another study, from researchers at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, found that this even happens to female Supreme Court Justices, like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Researchers examined 15 years of court transcripts to see how often men, either justices or advocates, interrupted the female justices. Over the last 12 years (when women have comprised only 24% of the bench) female justices being interrupted by men accounted for 32% of interruptions, while female justices interrupting men accounted for only 4% of interruptions.
According to Jessica Bennett, a gender editor at the New York Times, it is not just men who interrupt women. Other women are also more prone to interrupt women, and people of color and LGBTQ+ people fare even worse. The sad truth is we subconsciously see some people as less valuable or less important, and this shows up in the way we communicate.
I believe the crucial first step is committing to see all human beings as having the same value and demonstrating this belief in how we talk to them. Every person deserves to be heard and respected. We must see all human beings as equals, listen without interrupting, and honor their right to think differently than we do.
Obviously, there are also situations where the opposite is true and women interrupt or talk over men. The point of the article is to make us all better at respectful communication.
Practical ways you can be part of the solution
1. Stop before interrupting someone. If you feel the urge to interrupt someone, ask yourself, "Do I just want to ask a quick question to clarify what they are saying? Am I going to invite them to continue afterward, or do I think what I have to say is more important than this person?" If the latter is is the case, choose to keep quiet.
2. Check yourself before giving advice. Before you advise another person ask yourself, "Is there any chance I am explaining something to this person that they already know?" If you think there is any chance they might already know this information, don't insult them by telling them. You could also ask them directly if they would be open to some advice?
3. Ask permission before you share an idea or suggestion, or give advice. Ask the other person if they are open to hearing your idea and give them a comfortable out if they'd rather not hear it. Respect the answer to your permission question and don't forge ahead without permission.
4. Don't use demeaning nicknames like honey, sweetie, love or babe. These are not appropriate unless you are dating or married to the other person, and even then ask how they feel about these terms and make sure they are seen as a compliment, not an insult.
5. Never correct another person's pronunciation or grammar.
6. Avoid sexist or demeaning jokes and misogynistic statements. Call out other people who use them. Explain to them why their behavior is wrong. Watch for situations that make women or other marginalized people feel uncomfortable and stand up for them.
7. Make a committed effort to listen to other people. In any meetings you attend, make sure all the women and marginalized people are respected and heard. Insist that others acknowledge and hear them out. Stop people who are interrupting them.
8. Believe women and what they say. Insist that others do the same.
9. Don't get defensive if a woman — or anyone for that matter — tells you that your words or behavior were offensive or hurtful. Be open to understanding that from another person's perspective things can look and feel different than they feel from your perspective. Apologize and ask questions so you understand what you should do differently in the future. Be teachable.
10. Be careful not to talk over other people. Don't dismiss others' ideas; and if you cannot wait to make a comment, at least politely ask if you can stop them for a second. Then, make sure you invite them to continue afterward.
11. If you are on a board, panel or team, insist that they include a well-rounded number of diverse people. Invite more women or minorities to participate and be included.
12. Teach young people that being feminine is not a bad thing. Don't use phrases like "you hit like a girl." Challenge stereotypes that place women behind men as the weaker sex. Encourage women and girls to see themselves as equal, smart and capable as men.
What to do if you find yourself being talked down to or interrupted
1. Don't take it personally. Interrupting says more about a lack of manners in the other person than it says about you. This experience doesn't mean you are less important or less worthy of respect; it likely means the other person hasn't learned to be aware of how their actions affect other people.
2. Don't blame yourself or see yourself as weak or insecure. This happens because our entire society has been taught patriarchy as the social norm. You allow men to interrupt you because it is deep in your subconscious programming to see it as acceptable. It will take work and time for you to recognize every time it happens and learn to stand up for yourself. Have compassion for yourself during this time.
3. Whenever you are speaking to men, use confident words. Rose Kennedy, from the Atlanta Journal, encourages women to "speak with conviction using words like 'know' instead of 'believe' and 'will' instead of 'might." She says to "lean in and make eye contact," sighting a 1983 study that found men tend to interrupt women more often when they lean away or don't look at the person they're talking to.
4. Practice assertive body language. Do things like keeping your arms out to take up as much space in the room as you can. This is a power position and it changes how people treat you.
5. Be strong and confident without being defensive or overly forceful. You don't have to be angry and defensive to stand up for yourself. You can stand in your power and still be calm, peaceful and kind.
6. If you are interrupted or cut off, you have the following options to respond (which can all be done standing in your power):
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I read in Psychology Today recently that 70% of the most common conflicts in any relationship (even good relationships) are perennial conflicts, which means they are conflicts that never get resolved and happen over and over again.
These conflicts are usually based on character and behavior differences between the two people that irritate the other person. Most of these differences are in a person's subconscious programming and innate wiring, and most are not going to change. I am talking about things like being late all the time or not being organized.
If you want to have a rich and healthy relationship you are going to have to accept some of these things about your partner and quit trying to fundamentally change them. You are going to have to choose to love who they are.
That doesn't mean you can't bring up behaviors that bother you; but if you decide to do that, you better take stock of your own faults, flaws and quirks first. You must decide to forgive your spouse some of their flaws and quirks because you want some of yours forgiven too. You must be more accepting and less critical, let small irritating things go, and try to laugh at the funny ways you are wired differently.
Note: This article does not address relationships where abuse is happening. It is directed to those who have run of the mill conflicts, arguments, offenses and irritations with their partner, but there is no emotional, mental or physical abuse happening. If abuse, infidelity, dishonesty, cruelty, or other problems are in play, acceptance is not the answer and you should seek a mental health professional.
Here are some things you can do to become more accepting of your partner and reduce the perennial conflicts.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
My spouse and I keep getting in these fights where she does something like ignores me when I am trying to talk to her, and this offends me and I get angry and slam a door, which really offends her and makes her feel attacked, which starts a big fight that lasts all week. The fight morphs and quickly becomes about who treats who worse. And in this drawn out fight, no one wins. After days of being mad and miserable we will start to move past it, but only until one of us offends the other again. What can we do to break this cycle of offending each other?
The root cause of these fights is you both functioning in a fear state where you feel unsafe with each other, and this is making you wear what I call "mistreatment glasses." Mistreatment glasses means you are subconsciously looking for mistreatment and offenses that will prove that you aren't safe with your partner and that they are the "bad one." Whatever you are looking for you will find. If you are looking for mistreatment, you will find it. If you are looking for proof your partner loves you, you will find that too.
Unfortunately, almost all of us feel unsafe in the world (at the subconscious level), and this keeps us on the defensive a lot of the time. When you feel unsafe, your ego steps up to try and protect you. It does this through defensiveness and casting the other person as the bad one. That is why it feels like a win (to your ego) when you can show that your partner treated you worse and you are the victim. But this is really not a win; no one wins when you get offended by small things and always see your partner as the enemy.
Below is a process you can use when someone offends you. Following it will help you step back out of ego to see the situation more accurately and respond more maturely.
Note: In this article I am only addressing how to deal with the garden variety of arguments, not situations that involve abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has information on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how one can get help.
See the other person's bad behavior accurately
When someone behaves badly or offends you, there are four possible reasons for this behavior. Knowing them will help you accurately access what is happening in each situation. The four reasons people behave badly:
If this offense happened for any of the other three reasons, you must step back, stop taking this personally, and choose to not get offended — because it isn't about you. They don't feel safe in the world, and a person who doesn't feel safe has no choice but to focus on finding a sense of safety; they aren't capable of anything else. They may need some professional help to work on their fears around not being good enough and things not being right. So, the negative coping behaviors can be negated.
Be responsible for your response to the offense
You are responsible for your reactions and responses, and this should be your only concern. It is the only thing you have control over and the only thing that matters now. You must choose to respond with love, not fear.
If you get defensive and respond from a fear state, you are now doing the exact same thing the other person did to you. You are demonstrating fear-based bad behavior, and responding badly back is just as bad as responding badly first. It's the same bad behavior driven by the same cause.
Respond to an offense with love
Offenses and your reactions happen fast though, so you will need to practice and prepare ahead of time to be able to remember these steps in the heat of the moment. You might want to read through this procedure daily or replay past offenses that you reacted badly to, running through these steps to see what you should have done.
Procedure for reacting to offenses:
You and your partner may also need some coaching or counseling to work on the underlying fear issues that cause you to feel unsafe with each other. I find most couples who fight a lot need individual coaching to get their subconscious fears under control before they can create a healthy relationship. Always be willing to take this on and work on yourself.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
I often have problems with co-workers and am often bothered or angry with their behavior. They are inconsiderate and they never take responsibility for what they do wrong. I am thinking of looking for another job, but I am worried that before long the new co-workers would just bother me too. I’d like a job where I didn’t have to deal with people at all, but in my field that doesn’t exist. I realize the problem might be me and not them, but how do you really know? How can I feel less bothered with people?
First I want to commend you for being willing to look at the situation and see if you are the problem. That takes courage and the truth is we are always at least part of the problem. If you are often bothered with other people’s behavior or find yourself angry at people on a regular basis, one of two things is happening:
If you are willing to seek the truth and grow, there are some things you can do to check yourself and make sure you aren’t the problem, and make seeing your problem easier to understand.
Strengthen your self-esteem first
To ready yourself for this exercise first remind yourself that you have the exact same intrinsic value as every other human being on the planet, whether you are the problem or not. Life is a classroom and you are here to learn, but you cannot fail or be "not good enough." No matter where you are or what you are struggling with, you still have the same value as everyone else and you are right on track in your classroom journey (or you can believe this if you want to).
This means you are safe to look at your behavior objectively, see problems with it and make changes and there is nothing to fear. You are still OK and safe. Take a minute and tune into this belief.
Ask for honest feedback
You might want to ask some close friends or family members for some candid feedback about your behavior. You might have to reassure these people that you can handle the truth and want to learn. Tell them you really want to see where your perspective might not be accurate. You might also ask them what you could do to improve yourself and show up for other people better. If doing this scares you, work with a coach or counselor to build up your self-esteem first. A coach or counselor may also be a safe place to get some objective feedback. A third-party person can often tell you things a family member or friend would be too scared to say.
Don’t be offended by the feedback. Thank them for being willing to support your learning and take some time alone to step back and look at their perspective. There is a chance it isn’t accurate and they could be projecting their issues onto you. But if you will sit quietly with the information, your gut usually knows what you own and what you don’t.
Check for trust issues
Do you have a hard time believing others have your best interest in mind? Do you delegate or prefer to do things yourself so you know they are done right? Does having control make you feel safer? Do you subconsciously assume other people can’t be trusted? If you have a subconscious tendency to distrust, you may generally feel unsafe in the world. This makes you see everything and everyone as a threat. If you have had this programming your whole life, you may be more confrontational and easy to offend. The important part is that you become aware of this tendency, so you can catch it when it’s happening. Acknowledge that you might be seeing the situation through your "mistreatment lenses." Ask another person who doesn’t have this tendency how they view the situation and be willing to shift your story around the situation to one that is less offending.
Ask yourself these questions:
Don’t have any shame around this — show compassion to yourself and others.
Just own that you may need some work on your fear triggers or some additional healthy thinking skills you haven’t had the opportunity to learn. It’s time to find some professional help to change the underlying fears that drive bad behavior. You are not a bad person, though. You are just a scared, stressed, worried person who needs to learn another way to see and process what goes on around you.
You also need to work on having more compassion and being more tolerant of other people’s bad behavior. Every time you condemn or judge another person for bad behavior and get bothered or annoyed by them, you are subconsciously making a rule that says "there are faults which make some humans unworthy of love." Every time you do this, you are also accepting the same rule for yourself. You are confirming the belief that there are faults in you that could make you unworthy of love too. This will make you need to judge others more to feel better and a vicious cycle is created.
Work on changing this one thing. Be more compassionate and less judgmental of others. Allow them to be flawed and still be worthy of love. Be more patient, forgiving, and let a lot of annoying things go. You will not only get along better with others, but your own self-esteem will improve.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.