Supporting each other – By Joanna Farnsworth

Prologue:

When I originally wrote this piece in October last year, we were in the midst of doomsday headlines proclaiming post brexit panic and an industry almost on its knees, here we are weeks away from b-day and what has changed?

Very little, except we have grown tired of the scaremongering, have adjusted to the unknown and grown to be accept that there is simply no breakthrough in brexit deal and what will be…

As an industry and individuals have we also come to accept the status quo, or is, as I believe, the call to change as loud as ever?

October 2018

The industry remains in turmoil, margins at their lowest, the threat to delivery, cash, dividends and investment fuelled further by the skills and shortages looms large. The call to change is louder than ever yet the reluctance to change the way we interact is painfully apparent.

It doesn’t matter what gender, what background, what qualifications we have, we all see and feel the need to do things differently and better and it’s time to put that into action.

I can only speak for myself and from my experience but being a woman in the built environment is challenging but being a woman with an opinion is especially difficult.

Being talked over in meetings, having your views dismissed are frustrating enough but then to go on to hear them repeated by others… We can take a small amount of satisfaction that what was said was acknowledged and appreciated enough to be repeated but at what cost? to our confidence, to our positions? Our opinions were valid but not our voices?

Similarly when we call out bad behaviours, inappropriate comments, ill judged banter are we a lone voice? the only one in the room who was made to feel uncomfortable? I suspect not but who else if not you will make the first move in the call for change and encourage more balanced and inclusive thoughts and actions.

And on it goes.. until we collectively disrupt this cycle that keeps us locked into the same old ways of thinking and behaving.

We are all technically intelligent people but are we emotionally intelligent enough to realise progress? Our reactions, behaviours and expectations are all learned from experience and this keeps us locked in a static cycle.

What if we try a new way? Consciously making a point of listening and acknowledging the point thus unlocking potential and allowing a new way of thinking.

What if we support and add our voices to acknowledge that an unwanted behaviour or remark also makes us feel uncomfortable rather than remain silent and allow the patterns to continue?

What if we all truly embraced change?

The first steps are the smallest yet will make the biggest difference, we are no longer the minority of one in most situations, we may be two or three but there is strength in numbers. So the next time one of your colleagues speaks up support them

Epilogue

No matter where we sit politically, we can all recognise how not supporting, collaborating and communicating has kept us in this cycle of uncertainty. We are now awaiting out fate to enable our reaction and with that exposed to significant risk. Maybe there will be a break through tomorrow? maybe not – something has to give and that’s why we need to be the change calling for #Balanceforbetter.

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