This week we are going to take a look at Perceptions in the Business World. One of the questions we received was,
“Is there a difference in people’s perception when similar behavior traits are shown in a man as opposed to a women?”
The answer is YES! And this is such a key topic – it’s at the heart of most issues women face at work.
If you understand that the way men and women are neurologically wired is inherently different, then it’s easy to see how we would perceive our world and the people in it, through quite disparate gender filters.
It’s not about men being judgmental or unfair. It’s how their brain translates our words and actions based on how they would behave in the same situation. In most cases, they don’t understand our motives or intentions, just as we do not understand theirs, without some explanation.
“How do women convince male colleagues that just because women work different hours, doesn’t mean they work less?”
Remember, your actions are being processed through their filters. If they don’t work when they are not in the office, they assume others don’t either. The key is to not be vocal about being out of the office – don’t feel the need to explain – but raise the volume on discussions of your productivity and accomplishments. Obviously, you need to manage the language of how to do this effectively, but women need to stop feeling the need to justify and detail their absences. (We’ll get further into this discussion next week when we cover Languaging Issues.)
Another comment we received related to moms constantly checking their cell phone, talking to kids or caretakers at home, and how this was perceived negatively by coworkers.
Again, it’s about context. If you really do need to check in, do it in private – your office, the bathroom, outside work on your lunch or break. And take a look at how often you are checking in, and whether there really is an issue at home, or you are feeling insecure, left out or guilty for being at work? If it’s the latter, that energy is being projected to your colleagues and you will be perceived negatively not only because of your action, but what the action says about your state of mind and confidence level.
The final topic I am going to cover today is one that comes up in every coaching session I have –
being “nice” versus being “kind” – at work. You may think these are the same, but I assure you they are not.
Being “nice” comes from a desire to be liked by everyone – you are motivated by influences outside of yourself.
Being nice is about not disagreeing with people and taking on more work than you have time for because you’re afraid people won’t like you if you say no. It’s a transaction where your sense of self worth is coming from outside of you. Being nice has no boundaries and puts you at the mercy of other people. It becomes a vicious cycle of you needing approval, or fearing reprisal, driving you to continue your “nice” behavior. This sets you up to be perceived as someone who is not a leader, someone people can dump work on and someone who doesn’t think for themselves.
Being “kind” is a state of being and comes from within you – treating everyone else as a spiritual entity doing their best in life, just like you.
You can disagree with people, or say no to their requests, and still be kind in the process. There is never a reason to be unkind, even when others are not treating you well. You can remain composed, knowing their behavior is their responsibility, and disengage from an unprofessional interaction with your self confidence in tact. You have boundaries around your time and energy, and will help others when needed, if you can. Kind people are perceived as thoughtful, grounded, professional.
The key is to be aware of the difference and know your location on the scale between “nice” and “kind” right now – then work to ensure you eliminate the “nice” and accentuate the “kindness.”
To learn more about how Laura can support you or your organization in career development and advancement, go to www.LotusLifeWork.com and sign up to receive her newsletter and information about the March launch of her self study product: Positively Promotable – Understanding Men at Work. You can also download her free smartphone app for Android and iPhone – search for “LotusLifeWork” to receive daily doses of information, inspiration and introspection!
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