One of the males in the room—who had a stake in the outcome and was self-admittedly less knowledgeable on the subject—began an inquiry. He wanted to know everything. Her process, her experience, her projects, how she had learned so much. In front of my very eyes, as the barrage of questions ensued, I saw this strong, confident woman lose her footing.
Women are known to have such wonderful gifts as openness and flexibility and vulnerability and transparency. I wondered: What if ...
What if because women are so flexible—open to others' opinions and open to others' perspectives—they are open to being wrong! Does this explain what I had witnessed?
As her expertise was questioned, poked and prodded, I could almost literally see her begin to sway. Each question casting a seed of doubt, causing her to lose her footing. No longer grounded in herself, her knowledge or her vision, she allowed herself to lose confidence.
She was swaying out-of-balance.
She pulled me aside and let me know she wasn't comfortable proceeding. He didn't trust her, and she couldn't be successful under these conditions. She withdrew.
I was stunned.
Over the next 24 hours, because I remembered one of my favorite assessments, which measures influencing values, I was able to share a perspective that allowed her to come full circle. Remember: She is gifted with openness!
Based on this particular assessment model, his highest value is KNOWLEDGE—questioning, skeptical, fact-based, unemotional, needing to know everything there is to know—which caused him to launch into inquiry mode.
Her highest value, on the other hand, is NURTURING—relationships, trust, authenticity, feelings, teamwork—which is why she felt attacked, not trusted and not interested in proceeding. It felt accusatory, not collaborative.
Based on this information, she could see it wasn't that he didn't trust her per se; he wanted to know everything, so he could trust her. She also realized because she assumed trust, especially based on their relationship, she felt offended, hurt and shaken by the examination.
In my experience, many women have NURTURING as their No. 1 or No. 2 value, out of 4! It is not uncommon for men to have KNOWLEDGE as their No. 1 or No. 2 value, out of 4.
Needless to say, this combination can create discord when awareness is missing!
The 24 hours allowed her to regroup. She balanced herself. Found her center.
She had momentarily allowed herself to sway out of balance, but she was back in alignment. Instinctively she knew: Her experience, her knowledge, her vision was enough. She said "Yes."
And the outcome was fantastic.
Written by Heidi Frye, President of UPwords Inc. Heidi has spent her career making an impact on bottom-line business growth. Whether working with leaders, contributing to top-line sales revenue or helping organizations with talent acquisition, she is best known for her achievement orientation. Learn more at UPwords.
Heidi Frye is also the author of DOUBT., which ran on WestMichiganWoman.com in May 2018.