How to be Taken Seriously
Susan Marshall | Apr 30, 2012, 8:42 a.m.
I wish there was a more elegant way to introduce this topic. There isn’t. Not being taken seriously is a complaint I hear often.
Women today have a lot of jobs at work, home, school, church and throughout the community. I suppose it is inevitable that somewhere along the way you will encounter someone who doesn’t take you seriously. When it happens occasionally but not often, you can ignore the slight.
But when kids don’t listen, spouses or partners don’t respond, bosses don’t hear you and friends talk over the top of you when you really need some advice, it can get frustrating indeed.
What can you do to encourage others to take you more seriously?
Quit complaining. Listen to yourself for a day or two. Are you constantly running through your list of woes hoping for attention, sympathy or help? If nothing is right in your world and you are a broken record, what’s to take seriously?
Create a plan. Having problems getting the kids to help around the house? Create an age-appropriate task list and post it on the fridge with deadlines. When the work is done, distribute rewards. Notice that results trigger rewards, not good intentions or feeble efforts.
Get started. We all know someone who talks a great game about what she is going to do. After the third or fourth time, we tune out. After the seventh or eighth time, we start to feel embarrassed for her. She gets mad because nobody takes her seriously. If this is you, quit talking and get started. Every tiny step takes you closer to results.
Show results. Whether they are deadlines met, pounds lost or money raised, when you can show progress, you put yourself into a different, more credible camp. Remember, little steps count.
Enlist help. While you may be incredibly gifted at multi-tasking, no one is entirely self-sufficient. Too many women move at the speed of light until they drop in exhaustion. Then they complain that nobody ever helps. Not surprisingly, their complaints fall on deaf ears. Why? Because people who know them expect that after a brief rest, these women will be right back doing it all.
Break the cycle. Ask for help and be specific. Whether it’s compiling data, folding towels or scheduling appointments, find easy ways for others to get involved.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of working with Mrs. Lim, a principal in a school in Brunei. Brunei is a tiny Muslim country along the South China Sea; I was visiting there as part of a global team working to help school leaders transform their educational system.
During a Q&A session with the Minister of Education, Mrs. Lim stood up and asked what financial help the Minister could give her in order to build a library and an arts center at her school.
The Minister visibly scoffed at her question and asked why she expected him to take responsibility for her work. Mrs. Lim was struck dumb by the dismissiveness of his answer and my heart sank as I watched the color drain from her face.
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