Instead of a blog, let’s get your thoughts. I stumbled across this webpage and immediately thought it represented a lot of what I discuss. Follow the link and give me your first reaction. Conference Room Training.
What was your first reaction?
Mine was “Woah!” this is a male-dominated conference room! I bet this company is in the Blue Zone! I understand what they are trying to portray with the photo but I don’t think my reaction is in line with it.
I was immediately drawn to the guy up front doing the talking because he is using the Power Seat. Notice he is not sitting at the table like women are told to do but pushed back as far as he can against the wall. Notice all the space he has in front of him – he is commanding the room. There is no doubt his ideas are being heard. I know I picked up on this so fast because it reminded me of me in a meeting.
If you want to know what the Power Seat looks like – there it is. If a person was sitting where the projector is at the head of the table then this picture would show the complete power seat and meeting configuration.
What also struck me is that this is on their careers page. As a woman, does this company look inviting to you? The guy who is talking is pointing. How does that make you feel if you were looking for a job with this company?
By now you’ve noticed there is only one woman in the room. And where is she sitting? She is not in a power position but more of a learning position. At least she is not far back in the corner, notice there is another man in back there.
Who are the power players? The two guys sitting directly across from the speaker in the I-am-listening-to-what-you-are-saying-and-judging-how-it-affects-my-status pose. Did you notice how similar those guys look? Notice the other guy sitting next to them – he looks like a junior version. What does that say to you about the company?
Notice these guys are sitting with their back against the wall with no one behind them. This makes me question the amount of trust there is between them and the rest of the people in the room. Their position also doesn’t allow them to take command – to me they looked trapped in their position which makes me question if they are trapped in their roles in the company. What does that say about the company?
How about the guy in the dark blue shirt who is standing up? He is slightly aggressive and ready to pounce because he has ideas and he is not about to let the speaker steam roll over his ideas. He will be heard which is why he is standing. The chair between him and the speaker is what is moderating him from pouncing.
You probably didn’t miss the other guy who needs hard convincing – he is the big guy in the middle of the back table. He is sitting forward and definitely ready to voice his opposition to what the speaker is saying. I noticed him pretty quick because he looks very much like someone I worked with and I can read his expression.
Did you notice that just about everyone is where a blue shirt? Start tracking what is going on in your office when guys wear blue shirts – especially the long sleeve bottom up shirts like the two guys against the wall. To me this shirt always means – I am open to listening today but I am still formal and not giving up my position. In other words, just because I am listening, don’t think I am going to give your opinion as much weight as mine.
Did you notice the one guy in the red shirt? He intrigues me. If I was in this room listening to the speaker, that is where I would be sitting – power seat number 2. He can see the room and he has space to push back and claim floor space. He is in a counter position to the speaker. Actually, if I were in that room, I would probably be standing. If I agreed with the speaker I would be projecting support. If I disagreed I would be joining with the other guy who is standing and ensuring our objections are heard.
If you have never been in a male-dominated conference room, this picture is a great representation of what it looks like. Really think about your observations and how it made you feel. This is what you need to do in every meeting – read the room! Understanding the room, is critical to not being intimidated by it and giving yourself the confidence to take a leading position in the meeting.
Empowered women are not intimidated by the male-dominated conference room. – they read it!