In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed a dozen amazing, accomplished women working in all facets of the tech field, from CEO’s to CMO’s to executive recruiters helping to fill those roles. In our 4-part mini-series, Interviews with Impactful Female Professionals, we pass on their insights and advice to the next generation of women.
In part three of our series we asked; “What's the biggest tool in your toolbox when dealing with a difficult situation or person?”
Deidra Freeman, Director of Pathways, AnitaB
"There are four attributes I lean on in difficult situations: honesty, diplomacy, integrity, and respect. Difficult conversations are tough for many people and no one enjoys participating in those types of conversations. I sincerely believe those four attributes are key to a successful outcome no matter how controversial the conversation."
Margaret Echerd, VP, Corporate Controller and Principal Accounting Officer, Vaxart, Inc.
"I have learned how to calm myself by slowing down, breathing deeply and asking myself "really how urgent or difficult is this situation?”. Maintaining a calm facade, lowering my voice and slowing the message down can diffuse a difficult situation or conversation. I try to remember that often what seems like a crisis in the moment, will not really be important in the long run."
Nitu Gulati-Pauly, VP of Recruiting, CyberCoders
"Wine. Just kidding (well, kinda). You want to de-escalate the situation. Don’t match the tone or volume of the person’s voice. Stay calm, be logical and focus on the outcome you want. Also, it’s okay to walk away. If the situation/person is so stressful that it impacts your mental or physical health…give yourself permission to walk away."
Judy Shapiro, CEO/ Founder, The Trust Web
"I have learned the delicate art of never being tougher than I have to be but always being as tough as I need to be. Or said another way, I will always choose to lead with kindness first unless it is clear that this situation or person won’t respond to kindness. This delicate balance can be tough to pull off because too often people mistake kindness for weakness even though the reverse is what is actually true. It takes an enormous amount of strength to lead with kindness because it can be used against you. Even with all the caveats, leading with kindness allows you can achieve what you set out to accomplish while supporting those around you in the best way possible."
Div Manickam, Director, Product and solutions marketing, Dell Boomi
"I would say empathy--really understanding and hearing others is the first step in solving any challenge. I like to sit down and understand what is happening in the mind of the other person and let them know that while we may not share the same viewpoint, I hear them. It’s okay to acknowledge we’re both frustrated but can still work together to find a solution. It all starts with showing the other person you care because there is a human side to all of us."