Growing up, girls are taught to be polite and respectful. You learn that it is not a good idea to be rambunctious or make a scene. Even in adulthood, particularly in Western culture women who are assertive or speak their mind are seen as off-putting. So a lot of the time women find ways to be expressive passively (note: this isn’t scientific fact, just my observations). Interestingly enough when women enter the corporate world, many find it difficult to find their voice/niche in the work force.
I myself experienced this problem entering the corporate world. I often found myself apologizing for speaking up, asking a question, or if I had a differing opinion than that of a colleague. Recently, I was baffled as to why I felt the need to make apologies for wanting to contribute. After examining my behavior at work, I wanted to kick myself. Who says my opinion doesn’t matter? Why can’t I voice my concerns or objections to ideas at work? I suppose at an early age I conditioned myself to be agreeable, polite, and submissive to a certain extent. To be fair, it’s how majority of women grew up, it’s a perpetuated idea that the ideal woman needs to possess the above “qualities” I mentioned. Well, that doesn’t fly in the working world.
A week or so ago, I made the resolve to change my passive behavior. Getting out there and being an active member with the rest of my colleagues gave me a greater sense of belonging. For the first time I took control of my role in my work. I began to ask questions and give feedback without apologizing for my participation. And you know what? It felt great.
Have you ever had difficulties being vocal at work? What did/do you do to change that?