Career / Speaking Out / Work Culture

Opinion: Here's how you can respond to mansplaining at work

. 2 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
Opinion: Here's how you can respond to mansplaining at work

Ever since the term mansplaining arrived in all its glory to ahem… explain to us women a very particular phenomenon that occurs when men sometimes don’t realise they’re being condescending, we’ve started noticing and keeping scores a lot more frequently. At this point, you must have had at least a few such encounters, where someone won’t stop talking to you like you’re a kindergartener, even though you’re clearly more or equally as knowledgeable on an issue.

Whether it’s intentional or unconscious, we can all agree that it is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.

If it’s a friend or someone close to you, it’s easy to say, “Quit mansplaining.” and move on without bad blood.

But at the workplace, we’re probably more used to just smiling and listening. While ignoring it may bring temporary relief (I’m looking at you, non-confrontational peeps), it doesn’t send a firm message that you’re not a fan. If you’re looking to avoid conflict, the good ol’ smile-and-nod is perfect, but in time you might feel like your expertise is being undermined continuously and it does you no favours in a group setting.

So how can you firmly but politely handle mansplaining with such finesse that it never happens again?

Be assertive

First, even if you’re not naturally aggressive or combative, it’s essential to be assertive in your workplace interactions. Avoid using uncertainties like “I’m not sure, but I think…” or “I may be wrong but…” It could give people the idea that you’re not confident or well-versed in the subject.

Point out that you don’t need the explanation

If someone is trying to tell you how to do your job, reassure them gently that hey, this isn’t your first rodeo either. Make sure to let them know their contributions are appreciated, but you can handle it just as well without them. You could also casually point out that you’ve been trained in this very area or have more than your fair share of expertise in it.

Don’t be afraid to disagree

If you’re already an expert on the subject and someone (well-meaning or not), tries to explain basic concepts to you, try asking them some valid and incisive questions to see where they stand on things. If you don’t agree with their opinions, try and use facts to back up your reasoning. Chances are, they’ll realise that you’re just as clued in on the subject.

Sometimes, when you’re giving a presentation, people might interrupt or talk over you, and it could throw you off. If you feel that they’re derailing the conversation, just say that you will address any queries in the end, so that you can clearly explain your views without getting flustered or harried. Ideally, they will realise you know your stuff by the time you’re done.

To recap: Keep your cool, be polite but firm and let them know precisely who they’re dealing with.

Finally, if you’re looking for some sass or want to proceed with humour, just do what this ( hilarious Twitter user likes to do when someone mansplains to her!

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