I have talked a lot about my own personal experiences to set the stage, today I want to switch it up a little bit and provide you with some tangible tips to push past the biases you may experience in the work place.
The 5 tenants I want to focus on are listed below and I am going to try and post each day this week so we can get them all covered and start climbing those ladders so that we can shatter those glass ceilings. It's a lot of work, so let's get started. First the topics...
- Sorry not sorry
- I"m here for a reason, get over it
- A lil' swag goes a long way
- Just ask Kanye
- Eww, verbal diarrhea is so not cool
- Seriously, dude, it's not a good look
- I got shot gun, I called it
- (and other ridiculous game you should learn to play)
- Let em' hear you roar
- (it's okay, we promise)
Ever notice how women are always apologizing for the strangest things? How many times have you heard someone say the following or, if you're being honest have said them yourself?
- "Sorry, can I ask a stupid question?"
- "Sorry, do you have a minute"
- "Sorry" when someone else bumps into you
- "Sorry" as you hand your child to their father
- "Sorry" when someone sits too close to you
- "Sorry" when someone else was the wrongdoer
What's the big deal? I mean I know I probably did one of these this week alone. We are just being polite, right? But are we doing that or is it something else?
Saying I'm sorry is one of those annoying quirks and peccadilloes that seem to come in like an alien and body snatch every bit of what makes us us and for some reason we let it. Probably because we were taught to have manners and be the "bigger" (better) person. So we say sorry again and again. It is almost like when you great someone with "hi, how are you?" The whole concept is there as a rhetorical question because if anybody actually stopped and told you ow they were feeling, you would be running for cover because let's face, for most people that we present that question to, we don't really care.
I know, sometimes I'm a bit of a jerk. but I'm a truthful jerk and I am only saying what most of us are thinking. We say "sorry" as a formality. We don't really mean it and if you asked us "why" we apologized, we probably wouldn't know what to say. In the small cases we would be able to give you a reason, it will sound just as ridiculous in our head as it did when you heard it out loud. Then we go home and curse ourselves for doing something so "stupid" and never once giving ourselves the luxury of an apology.
in the workplace
When we are interviewed and hired for a job the assumption is that we impressed the boss. We said or did something that let them know we would be an asset to the team. Imagine the bosses surprise when we show up and start apologizing for all of the things they hired us to do. That's doesn't make any sense, it also doesn't help you out at all because it is not what they wanted. It may seem seem like they do but they don't.
how do i know that? well, do you see men do it?
I realize men and women are different but that doesn't mean one is superior over the other or that one's ideas, questions, space or responsibility is any more valuable than the other. It just means different. So while I ask if you see men do this, it is not to tell you that you should copy what they are doing but comparing our reaction to a situation at work with that of a man does gives some good insight into confidence and at the end of the day confidence is key. Now for the million dollar question Alex...
how do we stop saying i'm sorry all the time?
I'm glad you asked. It is NOT easy. I still catch myself doing it from time to time, especially when I just don't want to bothered. What I have found to be effective though is do one or more of the following:
know you surroundings
a lot of times, sorry comes from feeling inadequate. When you take the time to REALLY evaluate a room, you will realize two things.
- They are all just people, like you
- Some of them are definitely smarter than you but some are definitely not.
This means that 99% of the time you are sitting with people who are probably saying sorry in their head too, especially if they are women. Know what the men are thinking that you don't hear or see?
Fake it till you make it
Yup, that age old saying is so true. You are smart. You are capable. You are strong. You're basically amazing. THEY hired you, not the other way around so if you don't know something, learn it. If you're confused, ask questions (with out apologizing for them). If you need to get up to speed, then work a little extra to get there. Despite what some may think, hard work, knowledge, dedication, passion and commitment do still mean something in the world and people will recognize your efforts. Nobody knows everything and very few people are experts. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. How many of the people in that office have put in that work? So relax, and fake it till you make it. I mean hello, you know what will happen, the saying tells you. You will make it!
get passionate about your work
If you wanna be a shark, be a shark This one is not so easy for a couple of reasons.
- What happens if your job isn't exactly sexy and not what you dreamed of?
- Once you do it, people will use passionate to describe you in BOTH positive AND negative ways when you are a woman. Sorry, but it is true, there are studies all over to prove it.
Passion comes from within. You have to learn to harness it. I believe passion and drive are intimately connected. You have to WANT something to feel passion. Now, that might only be money. It might be respect or recognition or the knowledge of a job well done. If you are lucky, it is all of those things PLUS getting to do something that actually knocks your socks off. When I speak to kids, I always tell them that passion and creativity manifest themselves differently in everyone. It is up to us to figure out how. Stop complaining about not knowing your purpose and go find it. Easier said than done yes but NOTHING gets done until you want it bad enough.
So, how bad do you want it? If you want it that bad, why are you apologizing? You've made it this far, so you're doing something right, all it takes to move ahead, is one little step.
Okay, the first tenant is done, come back tomorrow when we talk about swagger in the workplace. YUP, I typed "SWAGGER". Deal with it.
share with me
If you are feeling especially engaged today, tell me what you're "NOT SORRY" about in the comments below or on social media with the hashtags
I just want to thank everyone who emailed, texted, wrote and called me last week and told me about your experiences. I was in awe and truly humbled that you read my words but that you also chose to share yours with me. Just Keep Swimming.