As I have touched upon before I grew up in the most dysfunctional family to parents that if a license had been required to have children, they would never have been allowed to have them! You may have heard what to me sounds like a Victorian belief: children are to be seen and not heard. Well my parents adopted this with me. I was never asked my opinion about anything and when I did actually muster up the courage to voice my views they fell upon deaf ears which deflated my confidence and ebbed away at the thought that my family were right, I was stupid but I was determined not to let this become a self-fulfilling prophecy and prove to them wrong!
In a previous blog post, MY TOP TEN TIPS I talk about the process I adopt to achieve much in my life: Visual To Realise and with this I would see myself in a group of people stating my views with a captive audience around me. It takes time to teach yourself new character traits and it took much developing, honing and practicing to get myself to a point whereby voicing my opinions became a natural reaction when appropriate and sometimes not so appropriate if truth be known! Of course there has to be a filter and at times I am too honest for my own good but it is so important to be true to yourself as long as it is not to the detriment of others. All I know is that if I leave a situation whereby I have not let my thoughts be known, I feel an immense amount of frustration and at times it can eat away at me. I always tell myself: think about how you will feel if you don’t speak up ………. What’s the worst that can happen??
To have an opinion in the workplace and be able to voice it is essential in my view, not only does it convey possible leadership potential but it can also gain respect from colleagues and in some instances when necessary, steer their own thinking and practices in a different direction. I want to recount a scenario that occurred many years ago whilst I was working in a trendy schmendy advertising agency full of beautiful people!! I hasten to add I did not fall into this category, I was very over weight and this combined with being vertically challenged at 5 foot 1” tall resulted in me resembling those toys of old, a Weeble with their slogan: Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.
I was round or rotund to say the least. Anyway back to the tale. We had an IT Manager as a hands-on resource for the staff, he was a complex character and not easy at the best of times. I soon discovered that my requests for assistance when my computer was not working properly seemed to either be ignored or finally undertaken after a long wait and then with a slight attitude problem. This became an on-going pattern until one day something snapped in me and I publicly spoke out in front of a large gathering and declared the following.
“Just because I am not tall, slim and blonde it should not mean that my requests for professional assistance are either ignored or go to the bottom of your list!!” I did not shout but spoke calmly and just loud enough for many of my colleagues to over-hear. I think this ignited a sense of guilt in the IT Manager who surprisingly openly agreed with me and apologised. After that he showed me the respect I deserved and I have no doubt my workmates also saw a side of me that conveyed confidence and that I indeed did have cojones!
One of my biggest bugbears in life is a lack of communication, if you don’t say what you are really thinking how can the other person know?? In my opinion women are far more emotionally intelligent and intuitive than men, but even then most of us are not psychic, so speaking your mind and voicing your opinion on the whole is cathartic and if exercised with a certain amount of forethought and caution can only be beneficial. For me, it alleviates the exasperation, resentment and self-berating that follows if I keep inside what I am really thinking.