Getting Heard

Karin Rengefors Karin.Rengefors at
Thu Jan 18 12:15:42 EST 1996

How to get heard...

I recently watched a videofilmed lecture on this subject by a norwegian 
politician & psychologist called Berit Aas.  Berit described how her 
male colleagues ignored her during meetings, and how they would repeat 
her ideas and get credit for it. Berit decided to study her male 
colleague's behaviour. She observed that the men did several things 
while she was speaking. Some would start looking into their papers and 
journals, others would whisper something to a neighbour, others would 
frown and shake their heads, some would even get up and walk over to the 
soda machine and get something to drink WHILE she was talking. She then 
decided to do an experiment:

While one of the men was speaking on a subject on which she had an 
opinion and suggestion she started doing just what they had done to her. 
She whispered something to the person next to her, giggled, frowned, 
shook her head, looked down on her papers. When he was done, she rose 
and told her opinion/idea on the subject. And it worked! Everybody 
listened to her. Then the chairman spoke, saying that he agreed with her 
and told everyone that he supported her suggestion and told them that 
she was very knowledgable in this area!

Berit described 5 techniques by which power is attained (or how other 
people are kept silent and powerless)

1. make other people invisible
2. make fun or ridicule people
3. withold information
4. double punishment - "damned if you do, damned if you don't"
5. place blame and shame


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