A friend of mine just called. She had attended a meeting, where the person who asked for the meeting made her feel invisible and ridicule. He used well-known suppression techniques. She knew they had different interests. She had prepared her message well. But she got totally paralyzed, when he arrived late, gave a monologue and left the meeting!
I Could Not Sleep!
Suppression techniques! That’s what we call them. I have experienced it so many times. My worst experience was a negotiation some years ago. The top management did not show up to meetings or responded to our calls. They made us feel invisible. Whatever we presented, it was not good enough or they just ignored us.
Normally, I am a cool cat. But a lot was at stake. I felt insecure, frustrated and angry! I laid awake night after night or I would go snowboarding to reflect. Why didn’t I do this or say that? How do we deal with it?
The five suppression techniques!
Doing research for this blog post, I found out that the expression suppression techniques, hersketeknikker, came from a Norwegian, the psychologist and philosopher Ingjald Nissen. He analyzed it in 1945 his book Dictatorship of the psychopath, where he discussed the German catastrophe. (Source: Wikipedia).
The expression was later popularized by the Norwegian politician and feminist Berit Ås. She defined five general suppression techniques.
- Invisibility – when you are forgotten, overruled or bypassed. Just like my negotiation experience.
- Ridicule – when you get laughed at, mocked or compared with animal behavior.
- Retention of information – when you do not get the information you are supposed to or bypassed.
- Condemnation – whatever you do it is not good enough. You do your best, and the response is always too passive or too ongoing. I would say that Sheryl Sandberg’s statement about women, unfairly, being called “bossy” is a clear suppression technique.
- Inflict of blame and guilt – you get ridiculed, humiliated, exposed and defamed. One example is “Don’t worry your pretty face”.
How can awareness of suppression techniques be your weapon?
Do I use suppression techniques? Oh yes! I have retained information. I have made people feel invisible. But I never ridiculed or made people feel guilty. I guess my strategy is smaller actions. Like many women using suppression techniques, mine are often “backstage”.
- I am very aware of meeting set-ups. Where and how do I sit at the table. Don’t sit at the far end. Sit next or opposite to the most influential person in the room. Or place yourself to be the most influential person in the room. Elevate your chair. Stand up if you make presentations. Invite people to your home ground, if you want to win the battle.
- I am very aware of how I speak. Do I address someone by their last name or surname? I inform consciously, what and in which sequence. I am aware of how I use my voice.
- I am very aware of how I act. A typical female suppression technique is to put my hand on someones shoulder or arm when I make a statement. A Norwegian top politician, today – the secretary of the treasury Siv Jensen, once asked if she could kiss her opponent, today – NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. I have not done this yet :).
I hope this blog post has increased your awareness. In my next blog post, I will share my best advice on how to deal with suppression techniques!
Have a wonderful Sunday!