you came back for part 2. YEAH!
here's where we left off... (if you missed Wednesday's part one, go read it so you can catch up.)
when it happens to you...
I was struggling at work. It wasn't WITH the work necessarily. That was always the easy part. I was struggling with the structure around me and the way in which business was done. This is not to say my way was right, it is simply saying that I wasn't used to what was happening and it confounded me.
You see, in my experience, work had always been somewhat easy. I got the job, I went in, worked hard, got bored, asked for more, did more and then typically moved on to something new. Here I was in a job that I loved but the environment was all wrong. For the first time in my career it felt as if people were judging me. It felt like people didn't like me. I understand that in the professional world "being liked" should not be what keeps you up at night and normally it wouldn't. I am pretty confident in who I am and I know that I am not for everyone but at work, I had never had to deal with that.
On a weekly, sometimes daily basis, I was told one or more of the following things:
- you are too aggressive
- maybe if you toned it down a bit, people would be more receptive
- they think you are a bitch
- why don't you ask (fill in the blank with any guy's name) to help
- he got promoted because he had more experience (despite having less education and work experience than me)
- we just really need you to be less emotional
- you shouldn't care so much
- You are really good at what you do but we just need you to change this one little thing
- your personality just doesn't mesh well here
- some people think you are too harsh, I don't but "some" people do
I would come home every night and feel like I had gone a few rounds in a boxing ring. Wasn't I hired because I was aggressive? Wasn't I hired because I am good and show results? Should I be worried that people don't "like" me? Why in the heck should I not "care" about what I am doing? Wait, why wasn't I promoted?
I think this happens a lot to women, maybe not this exact thing but the idea that at some point at work, you are told to act different than who you are and you are done in so in a way that wouldn't have been said if you were a guy. Heck, some of the guys I worked with literally would go into my bosses office and FART, yes FART and they would laugh with the boss about it. First of all WHAT? or to stay with the theme...
I am not kidding. When we find ourselves in these situations (not the farting, the stuff before that) MOST women, start to question their qualifications and value. They feel the need to justify themselves and the make accommodations that men wouldn't. But why wouldn't we?
For example, how many times have you been in a meeting, maybe you are the only woman, and you are the one is asked to take notes or call for lunch? In my entire 20 plus year career I have NEVER seen a guy take meeting notes OR order lunch. NEVER! We are not "just one of the guys" and apparently that is less somehow.
These things might seem small to some but they really add up to a lot and they are why teaching our daughters to be leaders is so important. We will not become leaders if we do not acknowledge what we bring to the table. We have to find a way to move past the ridiculousness of experiences like the one I explained.
I know what you're thinking, was it really that easy for me to just "get past it"?
I was upset. I was confused and don't tell anyone, but I basically cried on my drive home every single night. This was not what I signed up for. I really had a crisis of confidence and I am NOT a person who has a confidence issue at work. But I felt like I was just hanging there and since I knew this was not me I had to develop a game plan. Something had to change and unfortunately I have yet to secure a super power that allows me to bend people at my will. This means...
i couldn't just hang there anymore...i had to be the change.
to be continued...
next we'll talk about ways to change our attitude, outlook & responses in the workplace so that we can continue our upward climbs on those ladders we're always hearing about. Till Then...