Gender bias is a reality in today’s workplace. Here’s just one example: A recent study by VitalSmarts revealed that women’s perceived competency drops by 35 percent and their perceived worth by more than $15,000 when they are equally as assertive or forceful as their male counterparts. Keep in mind that assertive men are also punished, but to a much lesser degree.
This kind of emotional inequality is unfair and needs to be addressed on many levels. Now the good news: individuals can take control of the situation. In fact, we found that those who use a brief framing statement that demonstrates deliberation and forethought reduce the social backlash and emotion-inequality effects by 27 percent.
There are three basic framing statements to help reduce social backlash and the negative effects of emotion inequality. They are:
• Behavior Frame: “I’m going to express my opinion very directly. I’ll be as specific as possible.” This works because it sets an expectation and makes sure the statement that follows doesn’t come as a surprise. This frame helps eliminate the negative conclusion.
• Value Frame: “I see this as a matter of honesty and integrity, so it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand.” This frame works by giving a positive reason for the emotion. In fact, it turns the emotion into a virtue by turning it into a measure of commitment to a shared value.
• Inoculation Frame: “I know it’s a risk for a woman to speak this assertively, but I’m going to express my opinion very directly.” This works by warning observers that they may have an implicit bias. It causes them to try hard to be fair or adjust their judgement in an effort to be fair.
Expressing your intent before making an assertive statement softens the blow and helps erase some of the negative connotations associated with speaking up.
To learn more about how to turn gender bias into influence, attend Joseph Grenny’s session at the ATD Conference on May 24. For more information, go to www.twentyeighty.com/atd.