Speak Up! Lean In! Refuse to Be Ignored (Thoughts prompted by Sheryl Sandberg’s new book)

In listening to a political discussion this week (kind of hard to avoid these days…), I had a thought.  If you want something to get done, then your something has to be noticed, discussed – it has to rise to a prominent place on the agenda.  If there is no discussion, no “top of mind” thought, there will be very little action.  Especially when a group/team/committee is involved in the process.

sheryl-sandberg-book-lean-in-1So, I thought about the new book coming out by Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  (It hits in March – I will present my synopsis of this book at the April First Friday Book Synopsis).  Since it is not yet out, I have not yet read it.  But I suspect it is going to say something like this:  first, you have to be heard.  And to be heard, you have to “lean in,” insert yourself into the conversation, so that you can not be “ignored.”

I know that in an earlier book that I presented (I think the one by Mika Brzezinski, Knowing Your Value), I read a story about a woman who observed to Sheryl Sandberg that women in the audience simply did not even raise their hands to ask questions at an event she/Sandberg had just spoken at.  And the young woman stated, “I learned to keep my hand up.”  In other words, “I learned to keep at it, to speak up, to refuse to be ignored!”

So, think about the imagery – “lean in.”  Imagine you are sitting around a conference table.  You have something important to say.  You have to lean in, command attention, speak up.  In our presentation skills training, we call the sessions “Speak Up!  Speak Out!  Say it Well.”  “Speak Up” is first because, until you speak up, you will be ignored.

So, whether you are introvert or extrovert, male or female, don’t forget the first rule of getting your ideas across:  lean in, speak up, and refuse to be ignored.


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