Day 23,692: Straight Talk & Heartfelt Thinking.
Today in the Ladders blog, career advisors wrote a piece called “9 words and phrases that make any professional look weak.” Truthfully, they should have titled the piece “9 phrases that make Women Stay Weak.” Each posited phrase from “I’m sorry,” to “Don’t want to bother you, but..” are never spoken to me by male colleagues, but always by the women.
Why is it we feel we may be interrupting, will be perceived as bothersome, or tend to speak in passive tense? It’s not, my friend, because we’ve grown up in a man’s world. It’s because we’ve been trained by other women.
I grew up in a mostly male family, with the exception, of course of my mother and two older female cousins, who were more like extra mothers. My family playmates were all male and my brothers and cousins were valuable for toughening me up. They taught me the rules of team play, beefing up skills so I legitimately could be on the team, and taking the punch (aka the black and blue mark for the scraped knee) when sliding into home plate.
I took the last lesson a bit far when at a sleep-away Y camp, I jumped over the catcher to land solidly on home plate in a way that broke my right arm in several places. My arm is a bit crooked to this day, but is a badge of honor nonetheless. The run stuck and the break got me home that summer.
The Short and Long Of It
There’s only one piece of advice in the Ladder’s article that I struggle with – staying short and to the point. Business writers are taught to give executives bullet point memos so they stay focused. We’re lead to believe we’re the problem in being long winded, when the issue should be the short attention span of executives. Perhaps, if more execs took the time to fully comprehend a situation, or read a long memo, they would make better decisions.
My husband recently chastised a visiting real estate agent for telling a long-winded story. He was rude, but consistent. His mantra at the dinner table for many years when listening to family stories of the day was “Is this going anywhere, or are we just grazing?” He wanted to know the punch line so we could discuss the decision, not the events leading up to the decision.
Grazing, we all need to realize, is good. It’s the consideration back and forth of various sides of a story. It’s what we do well as women. It’s something we should take to the workplace and not hide. It’s something the workplace could use more of not less.
The short and sweet should be retired with the old bow blouses of the 1970s. If you want our opinions, and I realize you frequently don’t, have the courtesy to listen to the full nuanced argument. We may not always write the shortest blogs (guilty), or have the most truncated argument (also guilty), but our positions are generally thought out either from experience or intuitive observation. And since they are, we, too should be courageous and stand our ground and be fully heard.
Staying Focused on Common Sense Gun Sanity: There’s a new, young, focused female voice on the scene — Emma Gonzalez, author of the “We Call BS” speech. Follow her on Twitter @Emma4Change and support her clear call for change.