In my corporate career and since launching my consulting business nearly 3 years ago, I've always tried to check my emotions at the door and "be professional." Whatever that means...
To me, it meant having a stoic appearance whenever sh*t hit the fan, never letting colleagues or clients see me sweat and trying my best to be nice and respectful to everyone.
In my mind, there was no place for tears or attitude when something went wrong or I felt I was treated badly or unfairly.
Consequently, some people thought I was tough. I'm sure a handful of people thought I was a b*tch.
In reality, the people who know me well know that I'm actually a sensitive person; I get affected by negativity and criticism.
Even though I usually kept my walls up at work, there were moments where my vulnerability slipped out.
I hate to admit it, but a few times I broke down and cried in front of a colleague when I felt professional disappointment and just couldn't hold back the emotions another second.
I was MORTIFIED.
But in each instance, the person on the receiving end of my tears was incredibly compassionate and saw a different side of me afterwards.
Instead of assuming I was managing everything (because that was the image I projected), these individuals got a glimpse into my feelings and as a result, were more inclined to offer their help and support moving forward.
That support was invaluable, especially in difficult situations.
As I've launched my coaching business over the past 6 months, I've done a lot of thinking around the role of toughness and emotion and their place in an professional environment.
I've seen how having a tough exterior can be limiting and unnatural for a lot of women.
I have two clients right now who are both struggling with this. For both of these women, their work environments are a bit toxic and it has spawned some reactive feelings in each of them.
They are both struggling with the same issues:
- When is it worth saying something?
- How do I stand up for myself effectively without sounding like I'm complaining or coming across as a jerk?
- Is it possible that I'm wrong and this is my fault?
- Is this really worth my emotional energy?
Clearly, the answers aren't black and white.
I know firsthand how challenging it can be to navigate these situations on your own.
It's not easy to figure out the right amount of "toughness" to display at work while still being true to who you are.
It's also not clear IF and WHEN you should let down your guard.
They don't teach you that in business school.
I'm committed to helping women tackle this issue and find their voice.
If you're struggling with how you show up in the workplace, here are a few ways I can support you.
You shouldn't have to be a smaller version of yourself or hide your feelings to fit into the corporate culture and be successful.
I want to see you SHINE!