I had someone recently ask me if I worry about coming off as bossy or aggressive when I work with men. I said, “No.” Having had the pleasure to serve on a few boards, committees and attend events with men, it is never really anything I think about.
It is an excellent question though, but I think women put a lot of weight and worry about having this impression with colleagues. My guess is that very few men worry about this. Mostly because they were taught to always speak up as they developed, while women were told otherwise. Maybe this was a good strategy a few decades ago as women were starting to move into more management roles and it may have been better to enter those roles with as little fanfare as possible. But it is a new day, ladies!
Whenever I start the day, looking at the faces of men and women alike, I just show up ready. My philosophy is, if you are there to play the game, make sure you have the right gear. For example, if you wanted to play a quick game of soccer with the boys, you would not show up in heels and a dress. Show them that you understand the rules and that you are there to play and play like they do. Run, kick, steal the ball, and play hard. It will quickly gain respect.
The same rules apply in business. Show up ready and on time. If they are loud, be loud. If they interrupt you, interrupt them. Keep your voice steady. Watch and listen for changes in the rules. Everyone loves working with people who are their equal. Become that. And mostly, ask questions, really good questions, and always, always contribute. Business is not played on the sidelines.
I am very doubtful that most men care whether or not a female is in the room. It’s our own insecurities that make us feel awkward. So stop worrying. Be you. Be ready. Show up. Be effective. Win!
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