| Kate Steele
|| Great thread ... a gentle wit and lively sense of humor are are absolutely necessary attributes for consultants who are contracted to "fix" whatever a company sees as a "problem".
Most people, when told a consultant is being brought in to "help", "audit", "observe", "train", "problem solve", whatever ... become at least a little anxious, maybe angry, at the criticism they infer is being implied.
My work for the last 30 years has been primarily in claims - dealing with people who are injured/ill, frightened about their futures, anxious over money, and usually angry, depressed, defensive and/or suspicious that they will not be treated fairly - requires a sense of humor and light touch. The burnout rate among claims people is horrific, as it probably is in many other disciplines.
When I started out, I was very often the only female in the room, and, just as often, the youngest person. I was sneered at, ignored, propositioned, and talked down far more often than accepted for my experience and skills. I learned then, and still find, that a quiet voice and peaceful body language, an open expression, and good listening skills are as important in those first impression moments as a sense of humor is the rest of the time.
I do find that many men, when introduced to the female consultant or "expert", try to assert their supposedly natural male "superiority" even when they have not been directly challenged, use sarcasm and other forms of sham "humor" to move away from their own discomfort.
Women can be defensive and nasty, too, don't get me wrong, but my experience is that women are usually much more patient, and give another person (male or female) a chance to be heard, and decide how to proceed much more deliberately.
Cheers to us all!
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