3 Tips to Handle ManSplaining Like a BadAssLadyBoss

 

For the uninitiated, according to wikipedia Mansplaining is “to explain something to someone, characteristically by a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

It’s this kind of infuriating situation that women need a strategy for, so I’ll lay down some ways to handle this that have worked for me.

This has been a year of firsts for me: the first time I backpacked, the first time I skied a black diamond, and the first time I started my own company. But this year has unfortunately not been the first time I’ve had to deal with Mansplaining.

For the uninitiated, according to wikipedia Mansplaining is “to explain something to someone, characteristically by a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

I first recall hearing about the term Mansplaining during the 2016 olympics when one of the best women cyclists in the world, Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands suffered a crash in the midst of the women’s Olympics cycling road race. Most of the outpouring on Twitter was to help her get better soon, but then this random guy offered this piece of “advice:”

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As you can infer, this dude is not competing for the gold medal, nor is he anywhere close to it. Why did he feel the need to go out of his way to mansplain this?!

True story: the first day as a shiny new consultant, having set out on my own with a new business, I took a call from a CEO who I had not met before. Looking at his LinkedIn profile, I could see we graduated the same year.

I kick off the call, and as most people had asked, he probed as to why I decided to become a consultant. I gave him my elevator pitch about wanting to pursue projects I was passionate about, and be my own boss (it’s awesome by the way, but that’s another post). He then proceeds to spend the next 5 minutes telling me that I don’t really want to be a consultant, that I haven’t found the right opportunity yet, and that this is just a stepping stone. UMMMMM, WTF? I do not know you. And you do not know me. At all. It’s this kind of infuriating situation that women need a strategy for, so I’ll lay down some ways to handle this that have worked for me.

Tactic 1: Be Firm, Then Change the Subject

With CEO-guy, I was so appalled that I am surprised I didn’t hang up the phone right then. But since he was a connection through a mutual acquaintance, I didn’t want to “be rude.” I firmly told him that I was very confident in my decision to go out on my own and that I had thought a lot about it. Then I changed the subject back to the matter at hand: whether we should work together or not (shocker: he was a complete pain in the ass and I ended up canceling the project in the contract phase).

Tactic 2: Be Blunt

Whilst skiing recently, and taking a lesson from a girlfriend who is a ski instructor, a man in his mid-fifties decided to ski up to us. He then gave not just me skiing advice, but advice to my instructor friend on how she was teaching me. His ski level? Low.

I was blunt, and said “Thank you for the Unsolicited Advice. My friend, the instructor, will be the only person telling me what to do.” After that, he did ski off, and I felt that he knew he had disrespected me. It felt good to say something.

Tactic 3: Be Aggressive with the Passive Aggressiveness

A more senior co-worker of mine recently sent me a slide deck on how to do a core part of my job, which I do every week, and have presented to him on multiple occasions. I even taught an internal class on how to do this very thing. This, ladies, was passive aggressive mansplaining. He knows that this is my job, and what I do, and yet he still felt that he should send me something to explain my job to me. Momentarily, I got in my head a little bit, thinking I might not be doing my job well. But then I remembered, I am a BADASSLADYBOSS – and I am paid to do this! I confronted him about it in our next 1:1, and laid out all the ways I did this very thing – and well. He never mansplained to me again.

Have some mansplaining techniques that you handled like a BADASSLADYBOSS? Let us know!

Mary Sheehan is a co-founder of Bad Ass Lady Bosses and the founder of The Go-To Marketer.

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