I had couple interesting conversations yesterday about perception. This is something I have written about, spoken to and coach on several times – especially regarding women in the workforce. It is also something I have been keenly aware of for almost two decades.
The site TheGrindstone.com touches on this topic among others, here is the article I contributed to on their site regarding women in the financial industry: http://bit.ly/LV0kXo
Back to point – misconceptions. I was telling my best friend yesterday about a conversation I had earlier in which someone had pretty much said their perception of me was equivalent to the Ice Queen. Hey, at least I was queen of something I guess.
She reminded me that when we worked together I also had a very tough reputation, and my boys all knew me as one tough cookie as well. I seemed to be having a stellar day.
That is when she reminded me of my entire reputation. We worked together for several years for the same company within different divisions and often worked with the same people so she could speak to this professionally and not as my best friend.
Yes, I was tough, but that was in sticking to my guns in making sure that I was doing everything that I could for my brokers, assistants, office, our clients and the company. It was business and it was my job.
And the fact that as my son was growing up I often had a house full of teenage boys, all of whom were much, much bigger than me being a tough cookie was a matter of survival against teenage testosterone. I’m still “momma” to all those boys, each with their own story of my “meanness” and every time I see them there are lots of hugs, respect and love.
She then got on a bit of a rant about how it is unfair that I was considered so tough whereas a it would not have been given a second thought if a man took the actions or said what I did. Eh, it is what it is.
But to be fair, men are judged in the same way. My boss had a reputation as well. He was the best at what he did, in our office he didn’t give the warm and fuzzies and came across as aloof or cold or sometimes just a downright bastard. But outside the office he was a loving, family-oriented kinda kooky guy.
Here is the thing – if you looked, you could see those aspects of him in the office; but because we are so quick to judge many overlooked them or immediately dismissed them. Is it fair, no; does it happen, absolutely!
So if you are the one who is being judged as the mean sonofabitch or “bitch” at work take a step back before you let it get to you. Look at your actions and your motivations.
In that position it was my job to make sure things were done the right way for everyone involved in a moral and ethical manner. If that meant I had to be a so called bitch then I would assume that because it was for the better of whom I served.
People could call me mean or Ice Queen, but they also knew that I was there 110% for them doing everything I could to help them succeed. So if I get tagged with a label, so be it; but the reputation was that I was damn good at what I did and I got the job done for everyone. It was business.
The ironic thing was having a reputation of not wanting to be crossed if something was wrong actually helped ensure that things were done the right way before they got to me or anyone that I worked with or for. If I did have to call on something then it was also know that the first thing out of my mouth is “What do you need from me to make this right?” I was willing to cooperate and do what I needed to help them correct the situation. Then it would get done. Big, bad, mean me.
If you have to stand up for the right thing and people want to call you names, let them – you are following a higher road. Also, keep in mind that often people make those judgments and name calling because of their own insecurity.
I had several female co-workers ask me how I dealt with the perception, and then add they wished they could be more like that.
If you are the one making the judgment –first of all shame on you! Look down at that finger pointing at someone else and see there are three more pointing right back. If the person you are labeling is creating conflict to just create conflict then yes, they are a poophead.
However if they are doing it for a greater purpose or to help save your little hinny then perhaps you should rethink your assessment. Also, do you really have all the facts? Do you really know all the players in the game and what they are having to deal with in order to accomplish their tasks?
If you are not completely in the know then you are being judgmental and petty. Stop it and start concentrating on your job so someone doesn’t have to battle for you.
Are you really giving them a fair shake? Is there really nothing there that has shown or hinted at the rest of the whole person? This is just one side you know.
I had a friend of mine years ago laugh at me when he came over to help me fix something one night in my house. We met through work and he knew the reputation. When he showed up at my door he literally laughed and said, “I wonder how many people who think you are so tough realize you wear Eeyore jammies?”
Yes, you can manage your reputation; however be careful in doing so that you do not loose site of your ultimate goals. Sometimes I have to remind myself to dial it back a little, it is a process. Name calling hurts – it doesn’t matter if it is in the schoolyard or the boardroom, it hurts. If you are doing the right things for the right reasons then don’t you worry about what others call you, especially if they haven’t a clue as to the whole story.
As one former corporate bitch to any others I raise my Dew to you: you give it your all, you get the job done, you are damn good at what you do and you get labeled. I know it hurts, but don’t sweat it – stay true to yourself. Those that choose to see you as a whole will appreciate it and those that don’t can bow to the Ice Queen.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.