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How to Handle Being Manterrupted

How to Handle Being Manterrupted

Women finding their voice in the workplace has been an ongoing conversation for decades and, with the release of a new app that tracks the interruptions, I've started to approach the problem differently. 

The "Manterruption" app uses the microphone on your device and detects whenever a male voice interrupts a female user. Whether a woman is interrupted five times or 20 times doesn't matter, what matters is that it is happening in the first place. Research is also showing that the interruptions happen across all sectors and even in some of the most respected positions, like the Supreme Court. 

A recent Harvard Business Review study shows that male justices interrupt female justices approximately three times as often as they interrupt each other during arguments. This is extremely concerning because women are not giving equal opportunity to be heard and share their opinion, even in the highest court in the United States. The study also shows that the female Supreme Court justices are not only being interrupted by their peers, but also their subordinates. 

Working in marketing, interruptions are typical. The industry is full of passionated, opinionated and intelligent people who feel compelled to share their ideas and point-of-view. Until the release of the "Manterruption" app, I wasn't aware of the gender bias. Now that I know, I'm acutely aware and slightly horrified. Not only by the interruptions happening, but that women myself included, allow it to happen. 

[Related: The 5 Personality Types You Don't Want on Your Team]

I have not been using the app because I do not have to, I've just had to become aware of the conversations happening around me and with me. Having your opinion heard at work, is an important step to being viewed as credible and capable regardless of the industry you are in. 

So what can we do? Here are a few tips that have been working for me: 

1. Stop being so polite. If someone starts to interrupt you, do not let them and continue talking until your point is made. 

2. Talk to your colleagues about the issue. It doesn't have to be an "us versus them" approach but most people are likely unaware of the problem. 

3. Show confidence, your point is valid and showing conviction when sharing your thoughts and opinions is extremely important. 

This is an ongoing problem and won't be solved overnight but consistently challenging the status quo will make a difference. For more information, I encourage you to check-out Sheryl Sandberg and Andy Grant's 2015 op-ed in the New York Times. 


Jessica Mcgraw is a Communications Director at Public, Inc. As a marketing and communications specialist, she works with clients to find purpose driven solutions that help drive their business forward.

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