Yesterday morning I led a workshop on how to negotiate and navigate the unwritten rules of leveling up in the workplace. It was part of Multicultural Women's National Conference at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
The workshop was a huge success. The room filled to capacity with more than 150 people, nearly all women of color. The energy was off the hook.
After a live demonstration of a simple but powerful strategy to get past no, an attendee asked this question:
"But how do you know whether you're being aggressive, pushy, or too much?"
This was an excellent question, because it voices the doubt we've all encountered.
So I turned to the audience for the answer.
"What do you think? Who decides whether you're being aggressive, pushy, or too much?"
The response was unanimous, "ME!"
I wholeheartedly agree. Even if you're told no, and even if you're the only woman or person of color, ultimately YOU decide what you make that mean ABOUT YOU.
Then another hand went up, and this question came up:
"But how do you control what people think about you?"
Another excellent question, because in our effort to level up, we often mistake our intention to reach agreement with our urge to control other people's opinions of us.
Again, I turned to the audience for the answer.
"What do you think? Can you control what other people think about you?"
This time, the response was not unanimous.
Some people said, "No, you can't."
A voice piped up, "Well, yes to an extent."
They're both valid answers.
Take me for example. What if I showed up to yesterday's workshop wearing a burlap sack and flip flops? I'd have conveyed the message that I don't give a F about what the audience thinks about me.
I didn't do that, because I consciously chose to dress myself in a way that conveys professionalism. I wore a blazer and dress shoes.
So yes, to an extent, I had control over how my audience perceived me.
But here's the deeper truth. There were about 150 people in that room, and about 150 different opinions of me, the speaker. Each and every one in the audience had their own thoughts about me.
There's absolutely nothing I can do about that, because ultimately what goes on inside other people's minds is 100% their business.
When I try to control what other people think about me, the result I create is that I feel out of control, stressed out, and resentful.
When I mind my own business and focus on consciously DECIDING my own opinion of me, the result I create is that I feel IN control, self-confident, and calm.
The biggest unwritten rule of leveling up is that YOU get to decide who you are and who you're becoming. That's where all your power lies.
Don't give it up,
P.S. Would you like some help negotiating and navigating the unwritten rules of the workplace? It might feel impossible now, but it's 100% possible for you to generate SELF-CONFIDENCE and develop deep SELF-BELIEF that propels you forward in your career ascension. Self-confidence will make you stand out and help you speak up. Self-belief will make you attractive to people looking for a STRONG leader energy. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and resentful, I can help you. If you'd like to find out how we might work together, I invite you to fill out this application and I'll be in touch.