Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

It has happened to most of the women I know in business.  You are in a meeting and you toss out a fabulous idea.  And you are ignored.  The conversation proceeds for a while; then a male colleague suggests the same or almost the same concept.  The room erupts with “Great idea, Tom!”

You stew.  “Did they not hear me?  Why was my input ignored?”  And, it is hard to reengage yourself as you replay the scene.

The Response

I just heard a great way to handle this situation.  It is truly a Why didn’t I think of that moment.

When this happens next to you, take a deep breath.  Before anyone else can enter the conversation, you say “Why Tom, thanks for building on my idea.  I think we can put our thoughts together on this.” What can they say after that?

Simple, easy and confident.

I am not sure why this happens.  Sometimes I think that colleagues reacted to my voice the way my children often did—by ignoring it.  At their annual pediatrician visits, I would ask the doctor to be sure to check their hearing because they did not hear me effectively.   But, I digress.

Maybe our female voices sound like all of the adults in a Charlie Brown TV special to these men:  Wah, Wah, Wah Wah, Wah, Wah. Or, maybe we sound like our colleagues’ often ignored wives and mothers.

But for whatever reason, this scenario has happened to most of us.

Take control of a bad situation.  Assert yourself.  Let us know what happens.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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