I recently spoke to a woman who has been a CEO, a COO, sits on several boards and has extensive experience in raising capital. She also has been involved in mentoring for small businesses aiming to expand markets and a program aimed at increasing the number of women on boards.
It was an informal conversation but I look forward to getting more of her 40:20 Vision in the future. Today I’m sharing one tip she gave in answer to my question about her perspective on some of the barriers for women in business, whether it be getting on the board or for the younger woman, how to step up to the table early and often so speaking your mind becomes second nature. It was specific to recent articles showing that women are less likely to speak in meetings than men.
“There are so many things that undermine women’s confidence. Often it’s the voices in our heads. We talk ourselves out of things. We have those voices in our head that say,
“Maybe I can’t do it. Maybe I’m not experienced enough to be here. Maybe I shouldn’t say that.”
Men just don’t do that.
You have to deliberately roll over it. It’s a little like Buddhism. You can learn to control your thoughts.
When a negative thought enters head you have to recognize it and rewind. You need to say:
1. I’ve seen this before.
2. I know it comes from a different place / a different point-of-view.
3. I am not going to listen to it. I am not going to let it deter me.
You shut it out.
You do it again and again and it stops. I can attest to that.
I loved this simple process. Of course the negative voices come from other places — some experience when we were younger or some message we got growing up. Perhaps it’s because men can compartmentalize that they don’t have to shut out the voices…it just naturally happens. This process helps women get a head start on that ability and provides reassurance that the voices will stop so you can focus on what you need to say now.