This is not a new topic, nor is it unique. However, it is still something that can be tricky and I have learned a few lessons (some of them the hard way) that have helped me along the way. I’m sure many of you have, too, and I welcome you to reach out and share with me. In the meantime, here’s what I have found to help mitigate a potentially daunting setting:
Being Equal Does Not Mean Being The Same
You don’t need to dress like a man (or even lean toward a masculine look) in order to be viewed as equal. I have seen many women try to emulate a more masculine appearance or demeanor in an effort to better fit into a male dominated work place and it doesn’t allow their uniqueness to shine. Embrace your femininity. Be authentic. You don’t’ need to act/look/talk/walk like a man to be taken seriously. You simply need to be professional, however that fits you.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
You are in your position for a reason. It’s because of what YOU bring to the table. Not because you bring the same thing as “Joe”. Back when I was skittish about an upcoming audition for the Golf Channel as an on-air instructor, I was lamenting to my dad about how both my teaching style and overall approach were very different than some of the more well known instructors out there. When I named one in particular, saying “I’m not like him at all”, Dad quickly retorted, “Thank God. We already have one of those. People also need YOUR approach. Golfers need other options because not everyone will relate to (named instructor). And here you are.” I never forgot that.
Don’t Apologize For Every Little Thing
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “owning your stuff”. But please don’t apologize for everyday things. Made a minor (and fixable) mistake? Just handle it and move on. Forgot what you were going to say? Everyone does it. Take a moment, breathe and then start talking with confidence. Say the wrong word or forget your place in a presentation? No big deal. Simply collect yourself and continue. I’ll even allow an “excuse me” from time to time. But apologize? Nope. No trespass here. No need for forgiveness.
Do Help Other Women
If we are being brutally honest, most of my troubles in the work place have been with other women, not men. And 99% of the time I had no idea what the issue was. But there most definitely was an issue, as was made evident by the attitude, tone and overall approach taken with me from the get-go. I was given all the vague excuses from others who witnessed it: jealousy (for what?), insecurity (They ROCK. What do they have to be insecure about?), overall pettiness (whatever) and the list went on. I bent over backwards for their approval and acceptance until I realized (with some help) that it wasn’t actually about me. This was something that was going on inside of them and for some unknown reason they were being triggered. So I let it go and once I stopped worrying about their behavior toward me, things actually improved. There are many self-help books on this (trust me) and this is not the place to take a deep dive into all the facets involved, but a quiet morning at Barnes & Noble while you sip coffee and peruse is a great way to learn more about this phenomenon.
Being a woman in a male dominated industry isn’t always easy, so let’s not make it tougher than it already is. Trust in yourself, BE yourself and go do your thing. You shine brighter than you realize.
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