5 Ways to Shut Down Sexism in the Workplace

Are you in a position of authority (like a group leader or employer), and see team members exhibit sexist behavior? Here’s how to use verbal and nonverbal cues to shut it down fast.

5 Verbal and Nonverbal Ways to Shut Down Sexism in the Workplace

Just want the tips? Here you go:

  • Create a nonverbal cue, like a talking stick. The person with the talking stick gets to talk. This nonverbal cue helps prevent men from “talking over” women during meetings.
  • Create a sign outlining the meeting rules and hang it where everyone can see it. If a rule is broken, you can point to the sign and hold up your fingers that correspond to the broken rule. That way, the sign is the “bad guy” — not the person addressing the behavior.
  • Be aware of how you use your voice. Raising your voice may signal to your team members that you don’t feel comfortable addressing the behavior. Dropping your voice shows confidence.
  • Remember that you’re managing the behavior — not the person. It doesn’t matter if the person was “just joking” when their actions were inappropriate.
  • Can’t get through to someone about their sexist behavior? Ask your team member how they’d feel if a woman they loved dealt with a similar situation.

Read the modified transcript to “5 Ways to Shut Down Sexism in the Workplace” below.

Hi, Michael Grinder here.

I’m in the office, there’s no one here. You know what’s also not here? Sexism.

Let’s talk about it.

Sexism in the workplace used to be a taboo topic. When I was in my 20’s I would make statements that, when I was in my 40’s I realized were inappropriate. And when I was in my 40’s I made statements that, when I was in my 60’s, I realized were also inappropriate.

I’m almost in my 80’s now, and I’ve been running the office for over 30 years. Lots of employees have come and go.

We’ve got to figure out how to update offices so that they’re respectful of everyone that’s working in the office.

So I want to give you some nonverbal and verbal tips on how to get rid of workplace sexism.

Tip #1: Create a nonverbal cue

Number one, if you want, you can look at how to understand that females have every right like a male does. Let me give you an example. During committee discussions, a female will tend to be interrupted more by males and females than if a male is talking.

So you can point it out and say just, “Hey, that’s inappropriate.” But another way of doing it is just create a nonverbal – maybe this is called your talking stick. Anyone who has the talking stick, they’re the only ones talking until it’s set down or passed on to someone else. Manners.

But if you would, don’t just orally create those manners, go visual make a laminated plaque, number them, and that’s skill number two.

Tip #2: Go visual with the rules

Now, when someone is inappropriate, Kelly, let the idea of manners, protocols, numbers, be the bad guy instead of you. Let’s get back to the meeting, let’s make sure we cover it so it works better.

Now, if you would, in addition to those two skills please consider the idea of stopping all sexism. It’s not just in committee meetings, sometimes it’s a look, it’s a comment if someone is walking by, stop it.

Now you have to figure out if you’re low level management, stop it.

If you’re medium level management, stop it.

And if you own the company, don’t let it.

Tip #3: Drop your voice when confronting an issue

But here’s secret number three, if you raise your voice and say, “No we will not allow that in.” The troops are going, the skipper is not comfortable with him or herself imposing what the manners are.

If you drop your voice, then you’re showing that you’re comfortable, “Kelly no!” Much more powerful than, “Kelly, no.” If you’re comfortable with yourself, they know it. It’s not open to negotiation.

Tip #4: Manage the behavior, not the other person’s intent

Skill number four, you might have someone who, if you talk with them and counsel them, they say, “I was just funning I didn’t mean any harm.” You’ve gotta make sure you’re clear in your mind there’s behavior that someone does and then there’s the positive intention of why they did it.

Separate that out. You’re managing the behavior, not allowed, not allowed, not allowed.

Tip #5: Make it personal

And our last fifth skill. Sometimes you have an individual and you just go, “How do I get through to this person?” They are not understanding the person who is the recipient of their stare, their look, their comment. Find someone in their world, a female, it could be a daughter, it could be a sister, it could be a wife, it could be a mother and ask them, “If someone did that behavior to the person, you know would you allow it?”

Find the person’s story about another female and it’ll increase their manners.

Michael Grinder — let’s get rid of sexism in the workplace, thank you.

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