A few years ago, my company sent me to a strategic planning meeting in California. My boss recommended that I go because I had developed a hospitality-training program for our employees. She thought that my program would add value to the meeting.
I arrived at my hotel the night before the meeting quite late. Add the fact that I never get a good night’s rest, sleeping in a hotel, I woke up feeling tired before the day began.
There were several experts from all over the region at the meeting. All of us sat around a long table to review the training materials.
The facilitator, Susan, asked a couple of questions. “How many hours should this training take? Where should we hold it? “
Immediately, Cathy and David started to answer the questions. Cathy was very loud and very adamant that it needed to be held in San Francisco. David disagreed and stated that it needed to be at a more central location.
For the rest of the meeting, Cathy and David did most of the talking. The rest of us, including myself, had trouble voicing our opinions. I simply thought it was because I was tired and that inserting myself into the conversation took way to much energy.
On the plane home, my boss expressed her displeasure.
“I sent you to this meeting because you have a lot of great ideas. Not once, did you put up your hand, or interject into the conversation,” she told me.
Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In, tells the story about a couple of women who were at a meeting but did not sit at the table. Instead, they selected to be off in the corner of the room, where it would be harder for them to be heard. Sandberg’s advice is to “Sit at the Table.” Have the confidence that you are knowledgeable and that people want to hear your point of view.
Sometimes, you have to be assertive to be heard. Sometimes, you need to raise your hand, stand up and speak your mind. You have important information to share. People will benefit from your expertise and experience. You have the same right to speak as anyone else around the table
Remember to always “Sit at the table.” Be present and speak up. People will benefit from what you have to say.