Yesterday I was sitting in a meeting, where we were working through a really tough situation and I presented an idea, we discussed it a little bit, and then it was pushed to the side a bit.

Not three minutes later, a male colleague just repeated what I said, but claimed it as his own. I know I’m not alone in this situation. I know that happens frequently. I know that every one of my clients I’ve ever worked with has experienced this same thing. I’m sure many of you have experienced it — mansplaining, broke creation or whatever you want to call it. Many have experienced this over and over again.

I know that as underrepresented and marginalized folks, ideas get discarded and rebranded and repackaged ALL THE TIME. Sometimes not even all that elegantly get repackaged. Sometimes it’s just a restatement of what you said and claimed by our colleagues.

What do you do in that moment? The first is you have to stay in the moment. What I mean is that you cannot go into your emotions. You can not get frustrated because if you explode, unfortunately, your passion about the fact that that is your idea will be misconstrued and labeled as volatile.

Take a deep breath and then ask clarifying questions.

“I think I’m on the same page with you. Can you help me understand? Can you clarify how that varies from what I just proposed a few minutes ago?”

Ask these questions and watch the room go completely silent.

In asking these types of questions and phrasing it just so, YOU take the responsibility as a person who doesn’t understand, but you’re also opening it up and putting it back on that other person to justify and explain the variation of their idea and yours. You’re asking them to explain themselves.

It’s vulnerable for you as someone who just had their intellectual property taken from them but it can also be extremely powerful to take that venerability and turn it back around.

So in my meeting yesterday, what happened (after the room stopped with the cricket effect) was that someone said

“Well, Megan, can you re-explain what you said.”

I re-explained and the consensus was that the two ideas did not differ. I leaned in with “Okay. I just wanted to understand, because it seemed like we had moved past that being a feasible solution.”

That’s exactly what I want you to do, lean in. This is exactly the kind of real life scenario I coach through with my clients.

I often receive questions on how I work or what’s different about working with me versus other executive coaches. First, I offer an understanding of the experience of being AFAB and queer in a space where being AFAB and queer is not common. I understand there are added layers to your experience at work.

I want to show you and coach you through real world scenarios where you can use language and insider knowledge to bend the system to your will.

This is what I coach with clients.

I still personally get frustrated over these types of situations. These things still happen in my career. There’s no title or position that you’re going to hold that will make situations like this disappear. There’s no amount of money in your bank account that makes those questions go away. So it’s better to lean in and learn how to handle them. It might be uncomfortable. You might mess it up a couple of times, but if you can handle it now think about the power of that tool for the rest of your career.