How to deal with mansplainers and be heard even by the “Old Boys Club”

How to deal with mansplainers and be heard even by the “Old Boys Club”
November 25, 2022 Linda Murray

It’s almost inevitable that at some stage, we’ll come across a mansplainer.  What’s a mansplainer? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.” A study found that male colleagues interrupt 33 percent more often when they’re talking with women than they do men. Often, it springs from the subconscious and men may not even know they are doing it.

Luckily, not all men are mansplainers but one of the places they are common is in the Old Boys Club and its hangers on.

In my experience, and this is backed by comments from many of my clients and colleagues, it happens most in meetings and public places. Why? I think there are a few reasons, but the most common ones are:

  • to make themselves look knowledgeable and generous with their information,
  • to make the woman look less informed,
  • to surreptitiously take credit for the woman’s ideas and input,
  • and occasionally, from a genuine belief that women need a man’s help to get things done properly.

When you’re on the receiving end of mansplaining, it influences the way others see you – and not for the better. It can even put the brakes on your career. So how do you deal with mansplainers and get your ideas heard even by the Old Boys Club?

Dealing with mansplainers.

Here are some helpful responses I’ve used and that my clients have shared with me. They involve standing your ground, maintaining your composure, pointing out the interruption, and reinforcing your case.

  • “Thanks for the comment. I think you’ll find I’ve addressed it in the report…”
  • “My X years of experience in …. support me when I say… “
  • “Great point. I’ll address that in a moment.”
  • “That’s a great idea, and when I suggested it earlier, I also recommended….”
  • “Thanks for acknowledging my idea and I’d like to add…”
  • “What is your experience on the topic/situation?”
  • “Before you jump in, could you hear me out?”
  • “X, you don’t need to explain it to me. I know what I’m talking about.”
  • “Let me just correct you there…”

Dealing with mansplainers in the Old Boy’s Club.

While those tips will work in the Old Boy’s Club, to reduce the likelihood of interruption from mansplainers, learn to adapt your communication style to meet their needs. Afterall, that’s what true communication is all about, isn’t it?

Get to the point

Men are less likely to want to know all the background information that matters to women. They want data and solutions. When you have an idea, spit it out. Explain what it is and why it will make a difference.

Don’t leave room for doubt

Use strong, confident language when you speak, even if you don’t feel that way. Any time you hesitate or use words like “I think” or “perhaps” you leave room for doubts and criticisms to enter.

Speak up, stand up

Sometimes you need to make yourself loud to be heard. If you’re being spoken over or interrupted, go ahead, and stand up to make your point. You don’t have to be rude, but you do have to get their attention.

Don’t let mansplaining derail you. You know what you’re talking about!  

If you feel like you could do with more courage or self-confidence, I can help. Those are two of the areas I focus on when I work with clients. Executive coaching addresses the things you want to improve. Let’s have a chat about it.

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