Recently I facilitated a meeting of executive women from many different major organizations. Within the meeting all was well, or so I thought. We had some high intensity moments, which frankly, I think is healthy in a meeting. We needed to make some adjustments to our ultimate outcome, but the end result was as intended. We had a very good deliverable. I asked each executive at the end of the meeting for a pulse point on how they thought the meeting went. Each and every one said all was good.

Later, I learned that one of the women, who did not choose to articulate her feelings within the meeting, spent a good deal of time sharing her feelings outside of the meeting, which ultimately came back to me through the client for whom I was facilitating the meeting. I was furious.

Sometimes, we as women, in our interest to “be nice” actually cause more difficulty than if we’d just be honest from the beginning. I know this woman had good intention. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings, or be the only person in the meeting who was a contrarian. Our responsibility to each other as women is to hold each other accountable. Had I understood her thoughts/feelings in the meeting, I could have adjusted. Not knowing kept me handicapped and did not help me minimize this external chatter. This behavior is of course, not exclusive to women but frankly, I don’t see it as often with men.

I used to have the song by John Mayer “Say What You Need to Say,” as the ringtone on my phone just as a reminder that my voice mattered, that I had a right to my thought space, and that I also had the right AND RESPONSIBILITY to articulate my thoughts directly to enhance a team.

Here are five things that I believe each of us can practice to WOMAN UP!

Say What You Need to Say

  • You have a right and responsibility to put voice to your beliefs on what is most beneficial, directionally accurate, or best for the teams that you’re on. Don’t wait until the meeting is over to use your voice. 

Nice Matters. Being a Truth Teller Matters More

  • Having the reputation for being nice may be lovely but lovelier is having the reputation for being a truth teller and an honest contributor even when it may cause discomfort. Growth often comes through discomfort. You might not always agree with what I say, but you know that what I say will be consistent, whether I’m in the middle of the meeting or in the hallway later.

Don’t Triangulate

  • If you have an issue with someone, tell that person. It doesn’t make sense to go to someone else. If you’re needing to clarify your thoughts or get advice on approaching the person with whom you have issue, that’s one thing, but addressing someone outside of the original conversation is not the right approach and it doesn’t resolve the issue.

Help Others Course Correct if You Believe They’re in the Ditch

  • There is so much good that we can do as women to help each other when we tell the truth. In the situation I described above, there was no way I could course correct without an understanding of what the issues were.  Perhaps I would have chosen to make no course correction, but had I known that for at least one executive the meeting was problematic, I could’ve addressed it and maybe created a different outcome.

Of Course, HOW You Say It Matters

  • You don’t have to attack another or demean them to say what you need to say. Sometimes the most impactful way to help someone understand your point of view is to ask questions so that the person can understand that you have concern about where things are going directionally. Sometimes questions don’t work and being concise and direct in your articulation is the best response. Taking the emotion out and clearly indicating your belief has significant impact.

Let’s get better. Let’s take responsibility. Let’s help each other by being honest about our own beliefs. Don’t triangulate. Be direct. Be transparent. Be authentic. When we WOMAN UP, I believe we create the best experience, possibilities, and opportunities for each other.

Love to know your thoughts and/or experiences on this. Let me know…