by Deepali Handa
Follow Deepali on Tweeter @DeepaliHandaNeo
I have been actively seeking out organizations in Buffalo that comprise of women leaders. SheLeads@JacobsSchool was the first group I encountered that encompassed that. I was invited to attend a meeting today and went in with a bit of apprehension, but was immediately put at ease by a room full of like-minded colleagues. I was excited to meet this group of very accomplished UB women faculty, who are at various rungs of the leadership ladder, including the very top. We had a robust discussion about the topic of the day “Strategies for Giving Effective Feedback” to our students and trainees, and in general to our reports. This was the first session in a series that includes discussions on how to give & receive feedback from our peers & seniors, which will be tackled in the subsequent meetings.
We all supervise, advise, mentor professionals who bring with them a broad spectrum of skill-sets and personalities, and we all give feedback as part of our professional duties, with varying levels of comfort and success. The fact that the discussion brought forth a slew of suggestions and insights, ranging from anecdotes from personal experiences to published & proven ways of improving, made it very engaging and thought provoking. I have used some of the discussed methods in the past, like the “Sandwich Method”, which involves inserting the criticism between two layers of praise, and the “Ask, Tell, Ask Method”, which starts by asking about their perception, continues with telling them about what you see as a problem, and concluding by asking them how things can be improved. I also learned to include simple things like ending a feedback with a time-bound request such as: “Will you be able to do that by next month? “, or “What will you be able to change/accomplish by next month?”. I also liked the input about keeping conversations safe. “You” statements have a threatening connotation and can insert a harsh tone taking away autonomy from the listener. A more effective strategy is to use open and inclusive language such as: “I am concerned about your timeliness. What do you think is the right way to address it?”
Another important discussion I really learnt a lot from was about dealing with difficult feedback sessions, which may have legal repercussions. Keeping good documentation of conversations, especially documenting and summarizing the conversation in a closed loop email to the person involved, ensures that the facts are agreed upon by both parties. Inviting another colleague in the room when difficult conversations are held also is a good idea as it keeps the “he said, she said” at bay.
Phew!!! As I write this, I am realizing how much I learnt in just 45 minutes that I spent with these amazing women. I am grateful for a rich and honest conversation that motivated and empowered me to give feedback with more confidence. If I can assimilate that many pearls of wisdom by only scheduling in an hour every month for participating in SheLeads meetings, it will absolutely be worth the time investment. I’m eagerly looking forward to many more fruitful sessions in the coming months.
Gabriela K Popescu
For Christmas, our son gifted us a smart voice controller with Alexa. You probably got one too! At first, I found it intrusive, as if we had a stranger in the room, disturbing our quiet intimate evenings by the fire. (It is January!). How awful it must have been in the old days, even for rich people, to have servants roaming the house while you were trying to relax! But anyway, back to Alexa and delegating.
After a while, the idea that I can utter a command to change the music in the background, rather reaching for my phone (ugh!), became more and more appealing! And started trying voicing orders. "Alexa, play music" didn't produce the desired results. 'She' chose some high-wattage beat I wasn't in the mood for. How annoying! She's no good and useless, I thought! (Translation: what? She can't read my mind?). So I gave up on her for a while, going back to the old ways of using my phone for Google searches and Amazon music.
Yet, as 'delgating skills' were on my mind this past week preparing for our SheLeads meeting this coming Thursday, a new thought occurred to me. Perhaps the requests I voice to family or colleagues, like the ones to Alexa, often didn't produce MY desired results because the 'ask' was muddled, imprecise, or vague! Truth is that when I asked Alexa to 'play music", she DID! And the fact that I wasn't thrilled with her choice of a song was squarely in my court!! I had not told her 'what' music to play!!
With this little insight, our relationship has gotten much better. When I say 'Alexa, play bachatta songs' most often than not, she picks delightful pieces! And only occasionally I need to ask her to skip one or two songs here and there! And seeing that she learns and responds makes the 'training' worth my while! Not to mention that I learn too! With more clarity and brevity we'll be getting along just fine...or until Amazon comes up with a software update! Keeping us on our toes!
So try it yourself this month! Check your communications for clarity and brevity: who does what, when, and how!! Ah, yes! And don't forget feedback! Tell them what worked well and what not so much. This way you both learn to more closely match requests and desired outcomes for a satisfying collaboration.
No Room to “‘Lean In’”: A Qualitative Study on Gendered Barriers to Promotion and Leadership by Ellinas, E.H, Kaljo, K., ... Fouad, N.A., n.d. . doi:10.1089/jwh.2018.7252
Background: The gender gap in professorship and leadership roles persists in academic medicine, whereas reasons for these disparities remain unclear.
Materials and Methods: Open-ended text responses to a 2013 faculty engagement survey were analyzed by using the grounded theory and consensual qualitative analysis techniques.
Conclusion: Women's barriers largely revolved around internal obstacles (I can't do any more), and men's barriers largely revolved around external factors (leaders are impeding my progress). Resources are needed to mitigate work overload specifically for female faculty, and to ensure that all faculty are both engaged in advanced career opportunities and encouraged to pursue leadership positions.
Do you agree? Would strategic engagement be the solution for you??
The Grand Island Chapter of Zonta International (a Women’s Professional Organization) will be sponsoring a panel discussion to honor Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart Day is officially January 11th, in recognition of the day Contain and famed aviator Amelia Earhart began her trip from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California, which made her the first person to fly solo across any part of the Pacific Ocean.
As the event coordinator, I think this is an amazing opportunity for She Leads to give back to the Western New York Community, inspire future women, lead the conversation about women in science and also promote our own!
January 9th 7-9pm
Grand Island Senior High School Auditorium
1100 Ransom Road, Grand Island
Women in Engineering, Science and Medicine Panel
Honoring Amelia Earhart
Sponsored by Grand Island Chapter of Zonta International
Contact me to volunteer!
Stacey Watt, Clinical Professor
Director, Anesthesia Training Program
In our upcoming session (on Halloween) we will be focusing on Task Management. Jamie Wooldridge, Interim Chair of Pediatrics, has kindly agreed to lead this session in a 'flipped' classroom format. You know the drill! You are asked to peruse the PPT and to give this topic some thought in advance!! Hmm, who has time for that? Well, as Jamie would say: 'just schedule it!". If you have questions, challenges, or thoughts you are willing to share with SheLeads Fellows, please use the link below!!! The Fellow(s) with most 'comments' by semester's end ... will get a prize! I promise! Happy commenting!
For what it's worth, I am NOT a consumer of news!! I find that the time spent listening to what others think important and splay indiscriminately all over communication media takes me away from MY purpose, from what is important to me! Yet, I cannot escape the relentless bombardment. And the public perception of women IS important to me. So, while I have not listened to the recent testimonies, I found value in Kristin Neff's thoughts on this issue, which I share with you below. Let me know what YOU think.
Why women need fierce compassion
by Dr. Kristin Neff
The drama that just unfolded in the Senate confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court is just one more example of why women need fierce compassion. Why feminine ideals of care need to include anger and resolve if we are ever going to stop being controlled by men. It took tremendous bravery and courage for Dr. Blasey Ford to tell the world about her memories of the humiliating and sexually aggressive way that Judge Kavanaugh violated her as a teenager. She has since had to go into hiding out of fear for her life. How many of us women have experienced something similar in a less public way? A narcissistic man who believes he has the right to sexually abuse us because he is empowered by patriarchy to do so.
How many of us have remained silent because we didn’t want to rock the boat or risk being judged for putting ourselves in a compromising position?
Largely as a concession to the #MeToo movement, the predominantly male Senate judiciary committee and Judge Kavanaugh himself did not try to discredit Dr. Blasey Ford or question her morality because they knew it would create a backlash. Instead, they portrayed her as a confused victim, to be pitied but not believed. What really struck me, however, was the demeanor of Dr. Blasey Ford herself. While she spoke with confidence when discussing her area of expertise — the psychology of trauma — at other times she spoke like a young girl who needed to placate all these powerful men so they would like her. This doesn’t undercut the courage she showed for being there — it was tremendous — but she clearly felt she had to be soft and sweet to be heard. And she was probably right. Imagine if she had shown her righteous anger at Kavanaugh for derailing her life, she indeed would have been discredited. She was allowed to show her pain at being victimized, but no more. Kavanaugh, in contrast, was celebrated by many of the male senators for being angry and enraged at being “wrongly” accused.
This is why women need fierce compassion. Compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering – that of others or ourselves – and can be ferocious as well as tender. These two poles are represented by the dialectic of yin and yang. Yin compassion is like a mother tenderly comforting her crying child. Yang compassion is like a mother bear ferociously protecting her cubs from harm. Traditional gender roles allow women to be yin, but if a woman is too yang — if she gets angry or fierce — people get scared and often insulting. Men are allowed to be yang, but if a man shows vulnerability he risks being kicked out of the boys’ club of power. In many ways the #MeToo movement can be seen as the collective arising of female yang. We are finally speaking up to protect ourselves, our sisters, our daughters and sons. Thank goodness.
Women need to fully embrace and integrate both tender and fierce compassion if we are ever going to free ourselves from patriarchy.
The three core components of self-compassion according to my theoretical model are self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness of suffering. These manifest in yin self-compassion as loving, connected presence. Self-kindness means we soothe and comfort ourselves when in pain. Common humanity involves recognizing that suffering is part of the shared human condition. Mindfulness allows us to be with and validate our pain in an open, accepting manner. When we hold our pain with loving, connected presence, we start to transform and heal. With yang self-compassion, the three components show up as fierce, empowered truth. Self-kindness means we fiercely protect ourselves. We stand up and say “NO! You cannot harm me in this way.” Common humanity helps us to recognize that we are not alone. We don’t need to hang our heads in shame. We can stand together with our brothers and sisters in the experience of being harmed and become empowered as a result. Me too. And mindfulness manifests as clearly seeing the truth. We no longer choose to avoid seeing or telling in order not to rock the boat. The boat needs to be rocked. When we hold our pain with fierce-empowered-truth we can speak up and tell our stories, to protect ourselves and others from being harmed.
It is challenging to hold loving, connected presence together with fierce, empowered truth because their energies feel so different. But we need to do so if we are going to effectively stand up to patriarchy, to racism, and the people in power that are destroying our planet. We need both simultaneously, as advocated by great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, or Martin Luther King, Jr.
We need love in our hearts so we don’t perpetuate a cycle of anger and hate, but we need fierceness so that we don’t let things continue on their current harmful path.
I sincerely hope that the FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh brings enough clarity so that the right decision about his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court can be made. But even more than that, I hope that women such as Dr. Blasey Ford are allowed to be fully empowered. To temper their sweetness with steel. To call upon the strength and fierceness that is the birthright of all people. While it is crucial that we take action to change the political system, the first place to start is with ourselves. The next time we are at the grocery store with a rude check-out person, or in a conflict at work, or confronted with a difficult life challenge, we need to turn inward and call up both yin and yang self-compassion in a balanced manner. We need to learn to use caring force to change ourselves and our world. Now is the moment.
Dr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research and training. See www.self-compassion.org or www.CenterforMSC.org for more information.