"Shut up, stupid woman!"
This is not something that happened in another time and place.
It happened last year to my mother. A male neighbor addressed her with an angry shout when she mentioned she was awaken by the couple's loud discussions late at night. She was trying to protect their privacy as well.
Alone, she repaired into her apartment and sobbed. That incident broke my heart just in the telling.
One day, a boss I had when I first started working in an ice cream shoppe in Italy put both of his hands on my behind while sharing an appreciative remark with the rest of the staff. I was twelve. I took off my apron carefully, folded it gently, looked him straight in the eyes and said calmly -- please mail my check.
Then I walked out. I never looked back.
Two examples from a lifetime, actually several lifetimes, if we count the last four generations in my family.
Will my two nieces experience a different world? Will they contend with the subtle signals emitted in the workplace even as we read this?
When she's not part of the informal follow up that decides a project, when conformity of working style is expected, when one-upping between women is unfortunately still very much a reality show for a race to the bottom.
We should not encourage this kind of competition, everyone loses, including the organization that allows it to happen. We should be unreasonable in all the right places -- by being a nonconformist, someone who doesn't accept situations that are imposed upon them, by using curiosity and desire to learn as the overarching themes that guide us.
Where would we be today if we accepted only what is reasonable and common practice as truth and reality?
Many of us are seen as role models because of the privilege we have of thinking freely and publishing / sharing our thoughts.
Are we earning this privilege by providing an example worth aspiring for? Are we demonstrating leadership in the way we address colleagues and collaborate with others?
Show more of who you are and worry less about others, this is my guiding principle.
I know when a situation bothers me, it can be two reasons: 1) I'm not being true to myself, I'm tempted to conform; 2) I am letting the asshole in the room, the one whose ego needs feeding, get their meal.
International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.