Faculty Gender Issues on Campus — Aren’t They Gone Yet?

Just in case you were wondering if the gender issues and politics in my debut novel, Shadow Campus, really happen with professors on campuses where people are supposed to be open-minded, you might want to read this article by six very accomplished female Cornell professors: “Let’s Face It:  Gender Bias in Academia is Real.”  Shadow Campus is fiction, but fiction doesn’t just spring from nowhere.

If you haven’t read Shadow Campus yet, you can click on the photo of the book in the right column of this page.  The sequel is almost finished!  Still some editing to do.  Shamus Doherty and the other main characters will be back!

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The Skilled Negotiator now on ebook!

My book, The Skilled Negotiator, has had an unusual journey.  I published it as a trade book with Jossey-Bass and Wiley (parent company) published an academic version (much more expensive).  As is often the case, to make sure a book sells as an expensive academic book, the trade book version did not get the publicity.  For some time, that was just the way it was.  For a few years lately, however, I tried to get an e-book version made available.  I just discovered that The Skilled Negotiator is now available as an e-book in the U.S. on Barnes & Noble Nook and on Google Play and Kobo. It’s also on Wiley’s list on e-book in the UK.  I’ll be looking into when or if it will become available for Kindle.  Sometimes the author is the last to know.

This book comes from my years of teaching and consulting in negotiation.  It’s packed with information which may be somewhat advanced as it’s geared to becoming a truly skilled negotiator. It’s great stuff, if I do say so myself.  I love this book.  I’ve had waiting lists of two years for my MBA negotiation classes and finally this book is available to everyone.  It just takes a little searching, which fortunately I did recently after reading an e-mail from the Author’s Guild about how long publishers hold onto book rights (35 years after the author’s death or more) keeping authors from getting their books out there.  The Skilled Negotiator has recently found its way out there via Wiley, so long in the shadow of its academic version for far more money.  Take a look!  Hope you enjoy it!

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Back on the Hillary Media Watch

Today I posted a blog on Huffington Post about the return of gender insults perpetrated upon Hillary Clinton — this time particularly by CNN’s Gloria Borger. As a communication professor and researcher, I’m always intrigued by how words are used to shape our perceptions.  As a woman, I’m also particularly attuned to how those words are used to keep us from senior positions in business and equal pay.

Words are weak vehicles of meaning at times.  We use them quickly and sometimes find that they haven’t conveyed our intentions.  But they are also weapons when employed by those who are inclined to manipulation.  In The Secret Handshake and my other books, I look at how easy it is to “poison a well” at work.  When it comes to women, that poisoning is readily accomplished in some arenas merely by calling up negative associations that have taken root — usually by not being quickly and adequately challenged.

In They Don’t Get It, Do They? I wrote about how women are labeled at work.  My view: “It’s going to happen, so you might as well have some input.”  By that, I mean it’s important when a word is used, intentionally or unintentionally, in a manner that disparages you or your work that it doesn’t stick.   Words can be altered along with impressions. If someone says, “You’re stubborn,” you are at a choice point in conversation. What are other ways to describe the characteristics one person might refer to as stubborn? Here are a few:  persistent, determined, and committed.  “Yes.  I was persistent” is a response that turns something negative into a positive.

The Huffpo blog is about how some “journalists” use words they know are disparaging of women to describe Hillary Clinton.  Not only do such words repeated over time come to be ‘attached’ to her, they’re distortions of who she is as a person and presidential candidate. Whether in our own lives or observing the labeling of women running for political office, it’s important to be aware of how words and phrases damaging to women’s credibility are employed.  If a woman isn’t going to win in 2016, at least it should be because she wasn’t the right person for the job — not because she was constantly labeled in gratuitous ways and we just didn’t bother to inform the press that we noticed.

Posted in Choice Points, Comebacks, Politics | 4 Comments

They Don’t Get It, Do They? Free on Kindle for subscribers

I was reading an article yesterday about the overuse by women of the word “just” and how this weakens their credibility and perceptions about their leadership ability.  The article by former Google executive, Ellen Leanse, calls for a heightening of awareness by women of their reliance on “just” and the tendency to do so significantly more than men.

While the word “just” can also be used to emphasize or insist — as in “Just do it!”– it is more typically used by women as a word to avoid sounding too assertive.  We learn to do this with many words.  Even adding “I think” to the beginning of a sentence rather than simply stating what we think can reduce the impact of and conviction about important ideas.

I’ve written about disclaimers and aligning actions that women use when speaking in They Don’t Get It, Do They? which was recently rereleased on Kindle.  It’s now available for free to Amazon subscribers and only $2.99 otherwise.  If you or someone you know could benefit from noticing how language lowers women’s chances of gaining respect and obtaining deserved promotions, the link is here.

“Just saying!”

Actually, “Just kidding!”

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Are You a Seeker of Wisdom?

The blog I posted today at Big Think emerged from my own thinking about the difference between information and wisdom. Perhaps it’s because I have a birthday on the horizon. Birthdays are a good time to assess what’s been learned.  — or not learned.   Also, I’ve offered advice lately to my young adult children to find those efforts accepted with enthusiasm at some points in time and rejected as lacking relevance to their modern lives at other times.  My husband and I have discussed how much “wisdom” to share with our children, as there is a time and place for everything.  These and other events had me thinking about how some of us are seekers of wisdom while others are avoiders and these two different paths lead to very different outcomes.

Are you a seeker of wisdom?  Are you interested in stories of struggles people face and how they deal with them?  Do you observe how some people are able to take what they learn and transform this knowledge into guidelines for life?  Are you fascinated by the perceptiveness people show when they essentially “read between the lines,” seeing what is really going on rather than taking what is said or done at face value? Have you tried to develop this skill?

Another way to assess our inclination to seek or avoid wisdom is to think of those people who have significantly influenced our lives.  Quite often wisdom is passed from one person to another in the form of stories.  Some cultures are more inclined than others to share stories.  Given all the technological forms of information input we have now, with young people especially prone to use these forms, it’s hard not to wonder whether wisdom, especially in story form, is being given short shrift.  If so, there will be a lot more learning the hard way — as without wisdom that’s the only way.


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Lining Up The Ducks in Persuasion

As the candidates for the next U.S. presidential election continue to enter the race, the challenge before them is similar one that most of us face everyday at work, persuading children, volunteering, and dealing with family issues.  When we’re trying to “put our best foot forward,” we need to know what that means in terms of persuasion.

Each year that I’ve taught persuasion and negotiation classes and ones on politics as well, early on we’ve discussed what constitutes a powerful claim, as opposed to peripheral ones. Often people approach persuading others by dumping their best or favorite arguments.  The-more-the-merrier approach to persuasion is usually ineffective.  It’s important to assess which claims are likely to get and hold the attention of others.  Too many claims result in what I’ve written about in my books as “claim clutter.” The most influential people are skilled at selecting effective primary claims from among the claims and data they have to support their arguments.

In a blog posted this week, I explain one way to do this.  It’s not all that’s required to set up persuasive arguments, but it’s a strong start.  You’ve probably heard the phrase “lining up the ducks.”  With persuasion, the ducks are claims used to support  a position.  To the extent that you’re proficient at this, you substantially increase the likelihood of being influential.

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Meanness — Weeds in the Gardens of our Minds

Seems strangely coincidental but for me meanness is a subject that has come up in conversations this past week.  Maybe I was more alert to it.  Or maybe a lot of us are getting tired of it — sick of it.

It would be ridiculous to think that people could suddenly become more conscious of the pain they cause others, more determined to alter that — to take responsibility for spreading a little light instead of flailing about angrily in the dark, hitting the innocent as well as the guilty.  None of us is perfect, after all.  If we could remember that, it might move us all a bit closer to a less mean environment.  When there is no need for defensiveness, for getting back at another person, meanness diminishes.

All the more reason, as I wrote about in a blog this week, for learning ways to deal with it when it comes your way — tactics to disarm the angry and allow us to go on with our days lighter, not burdened by the heaviness of viciousness and gratuitous gossip.  The blog has gotten some traction, over four hundred shares and nearly 500 ‘likes’ since yesterday. Perhaps there are hundreds of thousands of us ready for meanness to vacate the premises.

Gossip, mean or not,  is normal, according to anthropologist Margaret Mead.  It happens in all societies.  Some of it is simply informative.  Other forms help us feel better about ourselves by comparison to the person being maligned.  Then there is  the intentionally mean kind.  Clearly, just because something is prevalent doesn’t make it a good thing.  It likely means, however, that eradicating it entirely is too much to ask.  Even so, it can be monitored, whether as a group, a village, a society or simply in our own day-to-day conversations.

Often people of a certain age conclude, “I’m too old for that crap.”  And there is much to be said for getting to the point where meanness, and even unintended slights, roll off more than they did in our youth.  But if you dig a bit deeper, often the pain of past insults, dismissals, and exclusions is still there.

In the blog, there are some ways to respond to meanness when it can’t be avoided.  The beauty of learning how to manage meanness is twofold (at least):  (1) You can stop the pain because you recognize that meanness often tells you more about the source than the target, and (2) meanness is, like other modes of communication, in the eye of the beholder and thus within your power to reject.

There are a host of phrases that help to keep meanness out of your own mind and heart.  “That’s interesting,” “I hadn’t thought of it that way,” “You don’t say,” “My goodness,” “Ah, we’ve all been there,” “Not sure what I’d do with that information,” and “Our turn comes around, though, doesn’t it?” are just a few.

All forms of communication are manageable.  They don’t have to happen to us.  In fact, they often happen with us  — with our permission.  We are at least 75% responsible for how people treat us.  If you let someone treat you like a rug, he and others will.

This doesn’t mean we should go around looking for insults, as often what seems like one is accidental offense — something said too quickly or at a bad time.  It does mean that we’re part of the good and bad in conversation that comes our way.  When we don’t abdicate our responsibility to protect ourselves and others from meanness, life is better.  None of us is immune.  But we’re all able to minimize what makes us miserable by learning what to say when it comes our way and to prevent the professional gossipers from using us as conduits of the venom that eventually robs us of joy.

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