In Praise of Listeners

I've often been criticized for being "too quiet" in meetings - not asserting my opinions over those of others in the room. I used to feel self-conscious about this, but now I'm owning it. I'n not shy or retiring (anyone who knows me can tell you that) - instead, I keep my mouth shut and pay rapt attention to the spoken (and unspoken) things my clients and colleagues are saying. I come to meetings so damn prepared there's no room for error. I don't feel the need for everyone to think I'm the smartest person in the room - there's always something I can learn from others.

There's a trend lately toward "power poses," and "commanding a room" in a meeting. As a services professional, I'm there to learn and deeply empathize with my clients' pain points so that I can come up with the best-fitting solution that meets their needs. How is that possible if I stride into the gathering with a fully formed opinion I'm trying to implement without input. I trust my intuition and abilities enough to let others do the talking - to go away and think deeply about what I have heard - synthesize the information, and come back with a well-argued POV that directly answers my clients' concerns and objectives, rather than serving my own.

You can call it "soft skills" or "emotional intelligence," but I find those terms to be gendered and therefore not as "valuable" to employers who value the ability to swagger into a meeting, stand expansively with your fists on the conference room table, and sell the hell out of their idea - whether it answers the client's problem or not...

My power pose is perched at the edge of my seat, Moleskine and Sharpie Ultra Fine point in hand with an open, inquisitive mind and quiet confidence in my abilities. 

I find many women (and quite a few introverted men) in the same place.  In a working world where you must assert your dominance or be passed over, do you put on a mask, or do you bring people around to appreciating your unique skill set and its expression? Project your power in a way that feels authentic to you - and if you get brushed past, talked over, or ignored, you're in the wrong place. I know, easier said than done...

Or, just blow the whole damn thing off and play with this handy "WHO TALKS MOST" widget to kill an hour. Beats getting stuck taking meeting notes.