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Webinar #4: Saying No and Speaking Up

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

We have seen during COVID that women researchers often face many demands at home and at work. One strategy, then, is to say 'no' more often. And that is a challenge for many of us!

We have to figure out what to say yes to, and what to say no to, which is difficult enough. And then sometimes, when we say no, we are subjected to a career-limiting ‘assertiveness penalty’.

Because being assertive can contradict the expectation that women are nice and compliant, it can sometimes lead to a backlash, creating a bind for women.

In this webinar, the fourth in the "Small Wins" series, ARC Laureate Fellow Sharon Parker provides an evidence-based overview about being assertive at work, as well as her own insights. She is joined by ARC Laureate Fellow Lynette Russell (Monash University), who will share her experiences and tips for being assertive and confident.

Sharon's tips based on the evidence:

  • Being assertive (vs being passive or aggressive) is important for your well-being and your career.

  • Because of gender stereotypes, women can sometimes experience a backlash when being assertive.

  • One strategy for handling a backlash, as suggested by research, is to be both assertive and warm, simultaneously.

  • Framing your assertive message can also help, such as linking your message to your values.

  • It is also important to try to change work places to reduce gender stereotypes so that men and women's behavior is judged similarly.

Lynette's tips:

  1. Know yourself, understand what your values are, and ensure everything you do is values-driven.

  2. Do the "Wonder Woman" power pose before every meeting, to remind yourself of your values and why you are there.

  3. It’s important to detach yourself from your work; as sometimes what you think is a criticism of you, is a critique of your work.

  4. Set your priorities regularly and re-visit them often; know what is required to reach your goals.

  5. Don’t rush when someone asks you something – don’t say yes or no immediately. List up the pros and cons.

  6. Time management is crucial – the more you can manage your time, the more times you can say "yes"

  7. Find a good colleague or mentor to bounce ideas off on "how do I say no" and "when should I say yes".

  8. Everything takes longer than you think it's going to take.

  9. Know your triggers and identify them when you're feeling overwhelmed; being overwhelmed often comes from having multiple thoughts and responses at once.

  10. Learn to identify the difference between urgent and important. Remember that not all things are both.

Read more evidence-based tips on our Being Assertive and Proactive page by clicking here.

Download a copy of the presentation slides by clicking here.


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