I felt like a Chief Nothing Officer….
Over the years if you work with men who are condescending, undermining, aggressive or rude you can naturally start to feel like you shouldn’t be there.
It’s normal to question is this the place for me? Is this a healthy environment? Should I go and work in a different sector with some nice normal people.
I did go and work in a different sector, and well it’s kind of the same stuff that happens.
The patriarchy are everywhere. So we need to learn to have challenging conversations.
I once spent ages on a project, pulling in talent for advice on how to make it happen (with no charge from them).
We had a meeting with management and just before the meeting the team lead (a man) said ‘I’ll present this’.
I lost my voice, literally, no words came out.
We went into the meeting with two females from the board and he presented my work. I shrunk in my chair from embarrassment.
I think it was embarrassment that I hadn’t told him to piss off. I hadn’t owned my project and said to him ‘I’m going to present it.’.
Why didn’t I? I wanted to be a ‘team player’. I didn’t want to ‘cause a fuss’ just before the meeting. So I made myself small, shrinking in my chair.
I then discovered imposter syndrome, and clearly had that. No normal person would let that happen right. I was so annoyed with myself.
He also once blamed me for a bad hire which had nothing to do with me. I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that’s made me feel so angry.
I kept a lid on the anger to try to display emotional intelligence, but I think I just enabled shitty behaviour.
If no one says anything it becomes normalised and people rationalise their aggression, whether that’s passive or abundantly obvious.
In their heads the end justify the means. And they do it over and over. It becomes a really bad habit.
And I’m sure they’re actually nice people.
So the learnings:
Get your voice out, say it. Otherwise you enable unhealthy behaviour. Offer them a calm, different perspective.
If you can’t in the moment as you don’t want to fight back, schedule a meeting to discuss it. Separate intention and the impact it had. Try using humour to challenge it.
Make people aware of the work you’ve done. Own your god damn work. You are the only one who can make that clear.
Speak to peers about the imposter syndrome stuff, try to find the funny side.
A lot of companies reward selfishness and takers. When you apply for a job ask ‘who are the superstars here’. It will give a good indication of their culture.
There’s a GREAT podcast by Adam Grant (an organisational psychologist), the episode is ‘How to deal with arseholes’.
Well worth listening to it! As they’re always everywhere.