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  • Writer's pictureEmily Mitchell

That's a no-brainer...

I was sitting in a quarter-end planning meeting with a few directors. We were preparing our most critical calendar of the year and double-checking that everything was correct, confirming our very accelerated schedule was attainable, that our service levels were aligned with the earnings call that all of our data would feed into and that our staff was in place and ready to go.

I don't even remember exactly what it is that I said but it started along the lines of, "should we..." to a suggestion I had regarding the plan (typical female reaction to present a good idea in the form of a question).

One of the male directors quickly answered, "Well that's a no-brainer." I was annoyed and irritated. I felt dumb. In my mind, I questioned why I even spoke up. Would he have said that to my male counterpart? I had a good relationship with the MD so I know he meant nothing by it in a negative way but it hit a nerve. I moved on not mentioning it.

Several years later, my husband and I were discussing the air conditioner that was acting up. He was frustrated and I mentioned he should go talk to the neighbor who worked with HVACs. He looked at me and said, "That's actually a good idea." My PTSD kicked in. Actually? I actually had a good idea, as if my good ideas were few and far between. I had a flashback to that room and the 'No-brainer' comment. This time I called him out on it, which we now laugh about. Knowing he oversees several women in his firm, I shared the story from that meeting many years ago. We both make a conscious effort to avoid the use of 'actually' or 'no-brainer' in statements like this, whether it be with our children, friends, or coworkers.

Our word choices, no matter how innocent they are, impact other people. What other, seemingly innocent words or phrases strike a nerve for you?


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