How to NOT to Mansplain – In 3 Easy Lessons

Lesson 1 – You Don’t know as much as you think you do

There is a tendency that the less we know about a topic, the more we overestimate our own knowledge or competence with that topic.

There’s a name for it – the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It’s a thing. Now you know. So don’t be that person.

Remaining silent and listening to others is a perfectly ok thing to do.


Lesson 2 – Ask yourself, are you Mansplaining?

Print the below flowchart. (Flowchart Credit: Kim Goodman)

Paste it at the back of your notebook or pin it next to your monitor.

Refer to it in order to test assumptions you may be making.

Extension: Check in throughout the conversation about some of those assumptions. Eg. Perhaps you have been asked to explain one thing but check in again before you start explaining more than that particular thing.

It’s not too difficult. You can do it.

Lesson 3 – What to do mid-mansplain

Always when explaining anything, look out for cues from the other person/people.

👉 High frequency (polite) nodding

👉 Noone is writing anything down; perhaps fiddling with their pen

👉 No further comments or questions; conversation has become a monologue

👉 Uncomfortable silence after you have finished speaking

👉 Pursed lips and ‘biting

👉 You are asking yourself questions and answering them

👉 someone has attempted to interject but you have continued to talk over the top of them

👉 Others avoid direct eye contact with you

👉 Others have begun to look at each other or stare at their notebooks or intensely at your slides.

👉 Others encourage the topic to be changed or attempt a redirect.

If one or more of the above are present, perhaps it’s time to pause and double-check if other people need you to continue.

Perhaps try one of the following:

🔉 “Just checking, do you need me to go into this further?”

🔉 “Just checking, how comfortable are you already with what I’m going into?”

🔉 “Just checking, who would like me to explain this?”

🔉 “Just checking, who else has something to add?”

🔉 “Just checking, do you need this level of detail from me?”

We can all unconsciously (or accidentally) become a mansplainer.

However it’s when we are mid-mansplain, and we choose to ignore the signals other people are sending us and continue our course of action, that we are wholly deserving of the labelling.

We can be better than that.

👇Use the comments to share other signs that would-be-mansplainers should look out for.