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Woman, Never Let Yourself Be 'Manterrupted'

/man•ter•rup•tion/

noun

1. an act of (unnecessarily) interrupting a woman by a man

2. the phenomenon of women getting interrupted in work meetings, classes, and pretty much every kind of conversation

Admit it, you have been manterrupted at least once. You speak up in a board meeting only to hear a man’s voice cut you off and speak louder. You throw an idea during a brainstorming session, only to have your male colleague repeat it with more authority. It may not be as controversial and public as the Kanye West microphone-grabbing incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 Video Music Awards stage, but it felt just as embarrassing (and frustrating).

It’s not just a woman thing. We’re not being paranoid either. Manterruption is as real as any communication issue a workplace can have. It’s even backed up by science and research, like the 2014 George Washington University study that proved men interrupted women 2.1 times on average compared to the 1.8 times they interrupted other men.

‘Mansplaining’ and ‘Bropropriating.’ Aside from manterrupting, there are other subtle forms of gender oppression in the work setting. Like a man taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it a.k.a. bropropriating or a man patronizingly (or condescendingly) explain something to a woman, popularly known as mansplaining. These behaviors (consciously or unconsciously done) reflect how women are perceived weak and less competent than their male counterparts.

Some ladies are guilty, too. In the same experiment done by George Washing- ton University, they discovered that women interrupt other women as well. This behavior is caused by the unconscious gender biases a person has, the beliefs and stereotypes that were deeply ingrained in each one of us. It is the kind of sexist thinking that shouldn’t have a place in modern times.

Breaking the bias. Recent studies have shifted the issue not on who is interrupting, but who is being interrupted: Three of the top four interruptors were actually women. Manterruption is no longer “an inflated sense of male self-importance cultivated by sexism” (S.E. Smith, Why Men Interrupt Women, 2015). It has evolved to a bigger matter of concern: The idea that women don’t matter and that their voices are irrelevant to conversations. It’s reinforced whenever people of any gender interrupt women, with men learning that their voices matter more while women learn that they can’t even trust other women to respect them.

So men are not really the enemy here, it is how you see yourself as a woman—as a lady boss. We should create a collaborative and empowered environment instead of competing and tearing each other apart. We should build and not destroy. We should encourage, and most importantly, prove to the world that any woman is capable to lead.

Dealing With Manterrupters—And how to stop the cycle

The “No-Kanye Rule.” Establish a nointerruption policy that’s across the board—whether male or female, for that matter. But if it happens, you can simply say something like: “I know I’ll appreciate your opinion, but can you wait until I’m done?” to make them wait for their turn.

Amplification. When one woman made a key point, another would repeat it and give a nod to the source, an idea that was said to be from the female White House staffers when former US President Obama first took office.

Intervene. When you see it happen, speak up. You can stop an interrupter on his (or her) tracks by not keeping silent.

Practice assertive body language. Research proves that leaning in while talking helps in making your manterruption-proof. Other authoritative poses like making eye contact, walking in front of the room, or standing up, can be effective too.

Own your voice. Whatever you do, don’t apologize before you speak. It will just give the manterrupters the opening they need.

Article originally published in Metro. Changes have been made for Metro.Style