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Five Ways to Respond to Mansplaining

You’ve been invited to the table for a reason, and your team needs to hear what you have to say.
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If you experience mansplaining or manalogues in your ministy setting, here is my advice to you:

1. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

While mansplaining is incredibly insulting, men may not intend for it to be as patronizing or condescending as it is perceived. They may believe they’re being helpful. Many times I have over-explained something to colleagues because I wanted to equip them with the information and only later realized how patronizing I sounded. It may simply be a lack of self-awareness. Assume that the men have the best intentions.

2. Seek to understand.

Over the years I’ve worked with a number of men who grew up in families, cultures, denominations, and churches that taught them (consciously or not) not to treat women as equals. They did not see a model of mutual trust and respect between men and women and, therefore, didn’t have the tools to know how to do it. I know it doesn’t excuse their behavior, but understanding where they’re coming from does help us be more gracious. Consider what you know about his background, and also say something like, “I noticed __. Can you help me understand?”

3. Have an honest conversation.

Now that you’ve defused your emotional reaction by giving him the benefit of the doubt and seeking to understand, it’s time for a conversation. Go to the individual who consistently over-explains, talks down to you, interrupts you, or talks over you, and kindly but firmly share how his behavior is affecting your relationship and your ability to work together. I would hope that when you approach him with a spirit of reconciliation, it would be reciprocated.

4. Don’t shrink back.

When you find yourself in another situation where mansplaining or a manalogue is happening, assert yourself. If you’re interrupted or talked over, speak up firmly. Express that you’d like to finish your thought, and then you’d like to hear his as well. Remember you have a voice at the table for a reason. God has given you this position of influence. Ask God to equip you to be more confident and assertive.

July14, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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