Hello, residents of Ladyville! It’s nice to meet you. My name is Caroline and I’m so excited to be contributing a lady tip to Kerry’s lovely blog here. When Kerry asked me, I spent a few days thinking about things I’ve learned that I wanted to share, and a big one for me recently has been…
Wearing my cranky pants with style.
I know. I know. So often we wake up in the morning, and work super hard to leave our cranky pants at home and go to the office (or school, or your non-office place of work) with a smile on our faces and a positive attitude. It seems crazy for me to be saying to you that sometimes it’s okay to shimmy into those cranky pants, and wear them to work with cranky pride. Let me explain to you why.
My lady friends and I have been in the workforce for a while now – most of my friends are in their late twenties or early thirties, so university and part-time jobs are a while ago. Whenever we catch up over coffee or for dinner, the conversation (naturally) often turns to what’s going on in our working lives. Many of us have nine to five corporate office type jobs, although my outfits aren’t nearly as great as Dolly Parton’s were in the movie “Nine to Five.” Nor is my hair as amazing.
What surprises me, and sometimes makes me a little sad, is how hard we ladies sometimes find it to speak up for ourselves if there is a situation at work that we are unhappy with. Maybe your talents are being under-utilised and under appreciated. Sure, we all have to pay our dues making coffees and photocopying endless documents, but if you feel like that time has passed and you can offer more to your boss and your workplace, shouldn’t that be a good thing? If your manager or boss has a good head on their shoulders, they should see your ambitiousness and willing to contribute as one of your many positive traits rather than something to be overlooked. Sometimes we ladies can be our own worst enemies – we second guess ourselves instead of trusting our instincts, or we don’t speak up, assuming that we’ll be cut down before we take that chance.
I am very lucky. Although I work in a supportive and lady friendly office, it wasn’t always this way. A few years ago I worked with an older (female) colleague who took every opportunity she could to belittle me, and to blame me for her own mistakes or lack of knowledge. Let’s call this lady Beverly. As the newest and youngest member of the team, I just quietly accepted this behaviour and just learned to avoid Beverly whenever possible. It wasn’t until we had a new manager join the team, who pointed out to me that I was being systematically bullied that a little fire grew inside of me and I started to stand up for myself. I disagreed with the things Bev said in meetings – not to be difficult, but because I honestly believed in what I was saying. When Bev asked me to do a menial task that she could have easily performed for herself – sending a letter, or printing a document for example – I pushed back. Instead of saying no, I said “Sure Bev. I’m pretty busy today, but I can do it for you tomorrow morning if you like?” More often than not, she would end up doing it herself.
Very slowly, I started speaking up for myself – using my voice, instead of remaining silent and accepting things the way they were. It’s a lesson that has served me well. My willingness to speak up and point out things that aren’t ideal and then suggesting improvements that can be made has helped me to build strong relationships with the managers I have had since then, and also to build a reputation as someone who has a good head on her shoulders and is worth listening to.
I can hear you asking, “What does this have to do with wearing my cranky pants with style?” Well, let me tell you. A lot of the time in life, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And when, to some extent. Timing is everything, and being able to point out a problem and also offer a solution goes a long way in the workplace. A lot of people will just say “Hey boss, I’ve noticed that we have this problem and it’s stopping us reaching our goal of selling five thousand avocados this week.” And that’s where they’ll stop. Wearing your cranky pants with style, is pointing out the problem but also having a helpful suggestion on how to fix it. It will get you noticed, it will make you an appreciated and valued member of your team. And it will also get you out of that cranky rut you’ve been in, because something or someone is making your work life difficult.
Ladies you are intelligent beings, and your ideas are of value! Next time something is really grinding your gears, try thinking of a constructive solution and then speak up. You won’t regret it.
Caroline is from Sydney, Australia and you can often find her blogging with her sister over at fourletterbirds.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @CarrieBean_ Let’s all give her a big virtual round of applause. Actually, let’s make it a slow clap that starts with one person and then gradually builds into raucous applause, like in a movie. That’s better. If you’d like to write a Lady Tip for Welcome to Ladyville, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.