Do you feel your ideas are not heard at work? Do you find you put forward your suggestions only to have them ignored or, worse, rejected? Before deciding, “Oh, well, I just won’t bother” consider these six techniques. An idea is only as important as you make it. In today’s work world if you don’t fight for your ideas you weaken them.
I love giving inspirational speeches to women because they love motivational talks. Eager to learn, rarely will they fight for their own ideas.
Women like to be liked. At work, we need to be respected if we want our ideas heard and considered. Studies show women make better leaders than men. They consistently rank higher on leadership qualities that are of increasing importance in today's transient workplace. Yet women occupy less than 10.2% of executive level board member positions (A Catalyst Study, 1999). Why? Because women don’t step up to the plate and fight for their ideas… so they weaken them. Ideas are inspiration and power.
Because building rapport is the main reason women communicate, we tend to work toward consensus and acceptance of ideas. So fighting for our own ideas may not come easily. Men can fight and argue with each other over a proposal and then relax over a game of poker an hour later. Women are wired differently.
Men are typically focused on getting results and achieving goals, status and power. Women are typically focused on communication, cooperation, harmony and relationship. Men focus on accomplishing things while women focus on relationships. The contrast is distinct and great. No wonder they say we are from different planets: Women Cooperate, and Men Compete.
Women Value Relationships, Men Value Achievement
At a presentation, the keynote speaker suggested that while male qualities drive someone to the top of an organization, female qualities are fast becoming the way to stay there. Plowing through and pushing for status may get you to the top, but these days it won’t keep you there. Female values foster teamwork, communication, and cooperation. These are all important qualities companies look for in leadership. Corporate America is starving for balance. We need more women in traditionally male dominated executive ranks. Women will balance competition with cooperation and achievement with relationship.
So the reason more men are in top executive positions is because they fight for their ideas.
True, if you want to be liked and foster cooperation, it helps to be nice. If you want to be respected, you need to confidently stand for your ideas. Heres some inspiration to get you started.
Six Techniques to Get Your SAY:
1) Speak Directly
In our quest not to be perceived as aggressive or confrontational, women may be indirect. Men generally tend to deal in facts and may not read between the lines. Instead of saying “ Don’t you think we should go ahead with this plan?” Say: “ I think this is a solid plan and we should go ahead with it.”
2) Focus on Facts and Results
Build a strong logical argument before you present your idea to your colleagues. Be really clear on the facts. Back the idea with statistics and projected results. This will give your ideas strength and power and it will give you added confidence.
3) Be Clear on your Objective
Before you present an idea, be clear on what you want. Be clear on your objective so you have a target and will end up with a clear result
4) Use Verbs and Action Words
Be sure to speak in the active voice. Instead of saying, “Don’t you think this is a good idea?” say, “ I’m convinced this idea will fly and I need your support.”
5) Focus on Benefits
Benefits are what the team will get out of your idea. Make sure you state them upfront in order to give your words credibility and a convincing momentum.
Example: Going ahead with this idea will dramatically increase credibility with our shareholders
6) State your Cause and Pause
Show your colleagues that you are prepared to stand confidently and wait for their response. Pause and let them think about what you have said. Once you have clearly stated your case, pausing builds strength and credibility. Rambling on will only weakens your point.
Fight for your ideas and success is yours.