How to Deal with a Man-Splainer

So you went to school, paid your dues, worked your way up in your company, and are on your way to crushing that glass ceiling. You’re killin’ it at work, and you know it.

But, turns out, not everyone else does. 

Specifically, that one male colleague who feels inclined to “explain” everything to you, as if you’re the brand new intern, starting off on day one… every.single.day. 

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Someone who, despite being relatively parallel to you in experience or positions at work, can’t seem to accept the possibility that your ideas might be good ones. Or - perhaps worse - discounts your perspective altogether, and then later passes it off as his own.

Or maybe it's your male boss who chronically interrupts you, and has to have the last word.

Sound familiar?

This scenario - of talented women doing their jobs day in and day out just to consistently be ignored or silenced by male colleagues - is not uncommon.

According to a recent study, women are about four times as likely as men to say they’ve been treated as if they’re incompetent simply because of their gender. 29% of women with post-graduate degrees (such as a Master’s degree or above) say they have been slighted at their job in some way because of being female. 

If you’re currently facing a situation like this at work, here are a few ways to deal:

Know Your Worth, and Add Tax. 

You don’t have to recite your resume to others as proof of your value but start by reminding yourself of how you should or should not be treated. For example, no matter how commonplace it may seem or how many people he does it to, a colleague who’s repeatedly interrupting or talking down to you is being disrespectful, and you do not deserve that. It doesn’t matter if you’re younger than him, or newer at the company, or, ya know, wear a bra.

Stop Blaming Yourself.

Just the other day, a friend who works at a major consulting firm shared that she’s been in a similar boat. She said she’d recently worked on a project with a male colleague who would consistently pretend he didn’t hear her original ideas, and then share them with clients as if he’d just come up with them himself. When asked more about it, she tried to explain it away, saying maybe he just really didn’t clearly hear her each and every time, because she was a low talker (sans puffy shirt, a la Seinfeld). 

But we know that’s not right, don’t we? Someone ignoring you or being even a low-key bully in the office is not appropriate, and certainly not the result of some innate quality or character flaw within you. And even if someone was straight up whispering, it doesn’t make it okay for any coworker - regardless of gender - to co-opt ideas.

Take a Stand.

I’ve been in the workforce for about a decade, and so far the hands down best way to get someone to stop treating you like less than in the workplace is to point blank tell the person that the behavior is not accepted. I say that having experienced men in almost every step of my career who were unnecessarily rude AF to the women in the office - if not to me, then to one of my female colleagues. But unless you let a colleague know their behavior is wrong, I don’t think you can necessarily expect them to stop (even if we all know the way they’re acting is insulting or unfair). This is certainly easier said than done, especially in certain situations (like if the offender is your boss), but it’s a lot harder to move people to change their behavior if you haven’t made your concerns heard.

Putting in the Work is What Matters

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Keep Doing You, Girl.

Don’t let anyone’s comments or sexist behavior make you feel inferior or diminish your power. You are strong, whether it feels that way at the moment or not, so stand tall in your light and continue to push hard to reach your goals. In the end, putting in the work is what matters, and what will allow you to leave anyone who dares not believe in you in the dust. 


Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in Los Angeles. She’s passionate about celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling and holds a MA in Journalism from New York University. Her writing has appeared on such websites as Huff Post and Career Contessa. To read more of her work, visit her website www.joellezarcone.com. Writing is her one true love.'

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