Want to Thrive at Work? Trust Yourself and Engage!

I forced my Barbie into jeans rather than dresses, hated the colour pink and would rather be in my mud covered overalls kicking the ball around than play dress-up – probably atypical for an Asian girl growing up. Thanks to my parents, I was brought up as a child – yes a child – not a girl and not a boy. They were very intentional about this.

Someone brought to my attention that I don’t fit the physical mold as a management professional. I’m not that outgoing and tend to be introverted most of the time. Young female professionals and newcomers to Canada are often curious about how I ‘survived’ working in a majority ‘white’ and male-dominated workplace. And I believe that a large part is related to being self and organization-aware.

I was on the job for two months and already two leaders had challenged the HR support that I was providing. I was not a newbie to the world of work, but people perceived me to be a new grad. I arranged a meeting with the two leaders and my manager to address their concerns.

The meeting lasted less than 3 minutes. My manager asked what the issues were with my HR support and the two leaders indicated that there were no issues. I could barely keep my eyes in their sockets and my manager tried to hold back her chuckles. “You just earned some street cred”, my manager said with a grin. 

We all deserve a seat at the table, regardless of our physical attributes, which in these days and time, should mean nothing. When you get the opportunity at work – engage! Don’t over think it - own it! You were hired for a reason and beat out many others because someone had the confidence in your ability to get the job done right.

So what if you’re <insert a description of yourself>? Why do you care? What impact does this have on your job?

Bottom line: do your job. Do what you’re hired to do. Hone in on what makes you – you! What are your unique qualities?

I learned the term ‘mansplanning’ for the first time from a student. She explained that this is when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending manner. I can’t stand condescending behaviour from any human being. So regardless of who is delivering the message, I will address it the same way if the person is female or male.

Remove the labels! At the core, we are all human. Simply treat others how you would want to be treated. Period.

Think about the tools that you have to manage difficult behaviours at work:

  • How do you solve problems?

  • What is your negotiation style?

  • Who can you confide in?

  • What is your team and company culture?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

ACTION: Stop wasting time worrying about what others think. Do one thing today that you have control over. Trust yourself.