Yesterday morning a good friend of mine and I went for a run. It was one of those good Saturday mornings. The one where the sun was out and the birds were chirping like a scene from a Disney movie. She was telling me about all the female related drama at her work within the content development team and how Lauren from marketing made an intern cry through the strategic use of passive aggressive emails.
She looked up at me with that look that said ‘female drama is the worst kind of drama’ almost expecting me to nod back and roll my eyes as a sign of confirmation. However, all she was met with was a blank gaze because I couldn’t relate.
As someone who always ended up being classified as ‘one of the boys’ I sorta became immune to guys checking out girls and talking about ‘getting some’ in a casual manner over beers on a Friday evening. It just didn’t phase me. Over time this tomboyish nature of mine seeped into my work too, through the way that I conducted myself around team members, through the way I laughed at lame ‘macho’ jokes and through the way I brushed off casual flirty encounters.
I realized over time that I almost molded my femininity to fit the disturbing sausage to buns ratio that comes with working in tech. At some point, I replaced my empathy with borderline harsh assertiveness to get a seat at the big boy table because that’s what women are almost encouraged to do in tech. As a form of survival.
Truth is it doesn’t have to be that way and we need to learn how to lean into their feminine energy to advance in the workplace.
1. Dress like a woman
If you like florals and bright colors wear them. Life is too short to blend into the sea of beige anyway. As long as you keep it professional and don’t turn up with your g-string and butt cheeks hanging out. It’s all good.
2. Manage your energy
I’ve literally seen men in the workplace turn down events because of the simple fact that they value their energy. As a woman, I noted that sometimes I would agree to do something simply because I wanted to stay in someone’s good books. Even if it meant staying back till the late hours.
3. Connect with people
One of the many things women are good is connecting. Unless you’re very much introverted I often find that one of the constant positive feedbacks that I’ve gotten in the past is around my ability to connect with people and clients. I’ll use humor over a coffee to connect with workmates and clients outside of work. If you’ve got a social side, don’t hide it. Embrace the shi*t out of it.
4. Don’t conceal emotions
In the workplace, we are often encouraged to be strategic and logical. While this is great it is also important to remember that being emotional isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being passionate about a goal/project is fine and it should come through. If someone has failed to deliver during a project deliverable and you’re forced to pick up the slack it’s okay to be upset about it. There is no need to grit your teeth and put on a fake Colgate smile.
However, make sure your emotions are portrayed in a constructive manner. Don’t go off at them after you’ve chugged your third coffee for the day.