Thelast time I was in China, I impressed my client with how I stood my ground to get a larger room from the hotel manager. I joked that I loved being called names when I walk away. At least they will remember me. The next day when I sat with her and a larger group of women to design a Women’s Leadership workshop, I took back my statement from the night before. I don’t want people to call me names, but I will stand for getting what I believe is possible no matter what I’m called in the process.
There will always be people who find fault with you, your voice, or your style. If you are a woman and/or a minority, you fall into a smaller range of acceptable behaviors before others negatively label you. The only way to change this is to take your stand, declare your requests, and be heard regardless of the names they call you.
We can only decrease the name-calling if we model non-reactive strengthwhen we know we are being judged.
A wise man told me early in my career, “Sometimes you need to be a bitch to get what you want.” Over the years, I’ve come to understand how to make assertive requests and set boundaries for what I will tolerate. Here are some tips:
1. Pick your battles. When someone says or does something that has a negative impact on you in the present or future, it is important to speak up even if you think they won’t change. Don’t forgive broken promises without stating what you were told upfront. Don’t let people interrupt you without letting them know they did not let you finish before they spoke.
If you need to let someone know you don’t feel valued by their behavior or decisions, say so. If there is something you feel you deserve, state why this is important to you and what you have done to earn it. Don’t react to everyone who gets in your way, but don’t give in if you will regret it later.
2. Be clear what outcome you expect to get. Your requests must be concise and clear. If something else is offered, tell them why it is not acceptable and make your request again. Most times I am given what I requested or something close to it if I persist without reacting.
3. Manage your emotions. If you get angry or anxious, take a breath and count to five before continuing. In the pause, look at the person you are addressing even if they are looking away. Then ask if there is anything they don’t understand about what you are saying. Don’t ask for agreement; ask if they need clarity on your request. Don’t give in by mirroring their behaviors. Stay resolute with your requests. You can find more tips on shifting your negative emotions to confidence in this post.
4. Compromise only what you can live without. If people want to negotiate your request, accepting their offer could get you closer to what you want. Remember that negotiations tend to be lose-lose scenarios but moving toward your desires is better than getting nothing. Be sure you will wake up tomorrow feeling okay about what you gave away.
5. Be true to your mission. People can sense the difference between someone who’s driven by a larger cause and someone who’s self-serving and manipulative. If you know that you stand for something important – the why behind your requests – it is easier to put up with name-calling and rude behavior.
6. Seek out allies who won’t put you down for who you are. Allies that encourage you and help you prepare for difficult conversations are a plus.
7. Don’t waste energy on those who would think less of your heartfelt convictions and strong will. Remind yourself that enough is enough to keep your spirit strong.
There is a difference between feeling regret and remorse. Regret is what you feel when you didn’t say or do something. Remorse is what you feel when you said or did something you wished you hadn’t. It is easier to say you’re sorry for reacting negatively in a heated moment than to forgive yourself for saying nothing. Don’t hide or tell yourself that now is not the right time. Clearly make your case for what you want even when you think you will not be heard.
When enough of us model non-reactive strength, the name-calling might decrease. It’s worth the effort to get what you want and possibly, make the world a better place for us all to live in.
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