GENDER EQUITY: THE ROLE OF MEN AS ALLIES (TOP 5) is a series of short-form articles and short stories intended to invite men to the gender-allyship table in a constructive, inclusive, and honest manner. While much of the content is often directed specifically to men and the need for allyship, we all have a role in gender equity.
If you haven't yet read the first two articles in this series, you may want to start here.
After my military service, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. I found employment in sales–something I had never done and was initially quite uncomfortable with. My manager quizzed me on product knowledge and sales processes. By the time I saw my first customer, I was a product information dumping fool. I followed the script. I said all the things. More importantly, I didn't make the sale. What my manager said to me next was both helpful at that moment, and had an impact on my future world-view I could not have anticipated at the time. "No one has ever listened themselves out of a sale," he said.
In today's culture of mansplaining, these words have evolved for me. I can regularly be heard offering the advice, "No one ever listened themselves into a misunderstanding." It seems almost like it should go without saying. I wouldn't take issue with you feeling that way. The reality, however, tells a different story. And this, gentlemen, is where we have our work cut out for us. Here's the crazy part about it, though. This part of our journey to allyship requires the least amount of exerted effort. Literally STFU, listen, and learn.
The old saying rings true, knowledge is power. It allows for better, more complete decision making. It affords the opportunity to see possibilities others cannot. It empowers. So, if having knowledge is power, then what should be said for seeking more knowledge. I would offer that the act of seeking knowledge by asking the right questions and listening to the answers is in fact a superpower! Unlike the superpowers found on the pages of comic books or in the summer blockbuster movies, this superpower is not limited in who can possess it, use it, or destroy it. It is within the reach of all of us (ahem, men, are you paying attention?)!
Short of a comprehensive company-wide program (which I highly recommend), there are a host of ways to get started on tapping into your listening and learning superpowers today.
Pay attention to how much time you spend talking in meetings or direct conversations.
Pay attention to how often you interrupt a female colleague while she is speaking.
If you're not hearing your female colleagues speak up, create space by asking, "I'd like to hear what Aleisha thinks. Aleisha, would you mind sharing?"
Men and women often communicate differently. Don't ask them to change their speaking style to match your listening style. Instead, listen and learn anyway.
When engaging in dialogue, don't offer your thoughts without first asking for the thoughts of those around you, especially female colleagues.
If you're just waiting for her to stop talking so you can make your point, you're not listening, you're being rude. And, you're probably missing a ton of useful information.
Our culture tends to heap accolades upon those who are great orators. But everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Tony Robbins knows that without the superpowers of listening and learning, they would have little of value to add in their orations. We don't get better by staying the same. We get better through awareness, action, and advocacy. Men, we get better through allyship.
Now is the time to implement a meaningful program that brings men and women together to help your organization thrive as a result of reduced friction between genders and empowers men and women through allyship. In partnership with Dr. Victoria Mattingly, we developed the perfect customizable solution for your company.
About the Author
Devin Halliday is an award-winning sales leader, with a diverse background and passion for people. He hosts the Belonging Factor Podcast, where he elevates the dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and of course, belonging. He is the author of Belonging Factor: How Great Brands and Great Leaders Inspire Loyalty, Build Community, and Grow Profits.
Devin is the Founder and Chief Belonging Architect at Rudiment Solutions, a people empowerment company that works with individuals and organizations to thrive in all things people, process, and profits. Devin proudly served in the U.S. Navy.
He's explored the people, places, and cultures across this beautiful planet. He's been amazed. He's been humbled. He's been outraged. But mostly, he's been inspired to share his lessons with audiences worldwide.