Jackie Kellso

Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Professional Women, Please Stop Trying to Fit In!

In business relationships, career, career challenges, career-related problems, communicating, communication, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, Detach and Breathe, empowerment, enlightenment, executive coaching, female discrimination, Gurus, handling tough boss, human relations, interpersonal skills, jobs, leadership, leaning in, life skills, manage stress at work, managing conflict, office politics, personal development, personal growth, professional behavior, professional development, professional women, self-esteem, self-help, self-image, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth, transformation, Uncategorized, women, women in the workplace, work culture, work-related problems on January 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I am decidedly a professional woman.  In my 30+ year career, of which there are actually two paths taken (one in media sales, one in professional development), I have felt discriminated against because I am a woman.  I have been sexualized, objectified, diminished, loathed.  I have been given opportunities, I’m sure, because someone thought I was pretty. Both men and women have said and done things to me that where abhorrent.  “Go make curtains,”  one male boss had said to me, in front of male peers, tossing me out of a meeting.  “What’s your favorite position?” a manager asked me after I had inquired about applying for a management position.  Oh, I’ve been there.

And you likely have experienced all that too. But this message isn’t about how to get along as a woman, or about leaning in or out, or about being assertive, or vulnerable, or how to navigate corporate male hierarchies. I’m not here to review the research that proves how ambitious women are seen as bitches while male counterparts are admired for their leadership qualities.

No, I’m writing to say to all of us women: please stop obsessing about being a certain way in order to move up the corporate ladder.

Here’s why:  despite working to create the right perception (by behaving in a way that will yield the best results), small-minded associates who are in emotional pain, regardless of their gender, will see us through their own damaged lenses.  They will have their biases. Their dysfunctional views of the world will be there ANYWAY.  Unless people are aware of the feelings of others, and care about developing themselves at higher levels, they will box you in like miniature chocolates molded into their casings.

Yes, it might mean you are seen as the power-hungry-bitch with 38DDs.  It might mean your high-intelligence is so threatening that you are passed over for a promotion to someone whom your manager feels he can control.  Disappointing, yet with a great blessing:  You have been hired by your Guru so that you can work on YOU.

Business settings are like Gurus or teachers. Work presents us with the most difficult, challenging and sometimes downright painful interactions that feel AWFUL.  These occurrences actually give us the opportunity to become enlightened; to make choices, to build skills, to detach from any personal need to have the boss (or colleague) fulfill a longing and need in us to be accepted, approved of, etc… They are playing an unexpected role — to push those old buttons so we can evolve.  My advice: use these nasty lessons to learn how to step-up into YOU, and don’t worry about who they are.

When I came up with my mantra, DETACH AND BREATHE, it was to deal with a boss who had been actively trying to sabotage me so he could replace me with a guy he liked for my job.  I had been reacting by shutting him out of my work and trying to take control of things without consulting him. The minute I allowed him to manage me, forgot about trying to be right, and went with the fact that our hierarchy gave him authority, HE RELAXED around me, and the threat actually went away.  By the time I quit, it was purely on my terms.  He was my Guru, helping me understand what it means to let go, to stop needing to control, to accept what is.

The freer you are — the more objective and the more accepting of others’ limitations — the better you will feel about yourself and your work.  So, you may be overlooked for a promotion or even get fired.  Sadly, you may have to deal with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Don’t allow regret to eclipse the power of the lesson. The right opportunities lie ahead. You can live out your purpose, carve out your path.  This will happen as a result of your enlightenment and enrichment from these horrific experiences.  Plus, there are always good people around who want to help.  It’s focusing energy on what’s possible, not on conforming to a culture that cannot bring your dreams to fruition.

Professionally and respectfully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bully for You; How to Stop Being an Office Bully’s Target

In aggression, assertiveness, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, bullying, business relationships, career, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, coping with pressure at work, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, effective communicating, handling tough boss, interpersonal skills, leadership, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, NeuroLeadership Group, office politics, passive-aggressive, people skills, professional behavior, professional development, Psychology Today, self-esteem, Uncategorized on January 6, 2014 at 1:55 am

If I may be so bold, unless you wish to be, you are not in your job to be anyone’s “punching bag” or the butt of sadistic manuevers to undermine you or your work.

If you’ve been spending countless nights worrying about how to deal with your bully, or asking yourself what you did to deserve this creep in your life and are experiencing a downturn in your productivity and/or desire to stay in your job, you may be interested to know that there is actually something you can do that is neither vengeful nor in any way harmful to any party (I know, revenge would feel so sweet!) and in fact can be a nice boost to your self-confidence.

First, let’s take a look at bullying.  According to Psychology Today, “Bullies couldn’t exist without victims, and they don’t pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear….” Does this sound like you?  But, you may ask, “Yeah, but I’ve still done nothing to deserve this.” Psychology today states that, “Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn’t handled well.”

Sadly, you are dealing with a person who is emotionally stalled and you are simply playing in the wrong sandbox.

Bullies are not exempt from feeling threatened. In fact, self-esteem and status are directly linked to behaviors that make people react as both threatening and threatened and this type of reaction mainly comes from a perceived loss of status.  David Rock, author of “How the Brain Works,” and “Quiet Leadership” describes that, “Status means we are always positioned in relation to those around us:  literally, where we are in the ‘pecking order.'” Dr. Rock, CEO and owner of the NeuroLeadership Group and co-founder and executive director of the Neuroleadership Institute, is a pioneer of brain-based research and its application for creating positive, organizational change. His work has proven that as social beings, we react to social threat as if we are experiencing physical threat; as if our survival is at risk.  He has identified the five core areas that trigger unconscious threat reactions and shows us that through awareness and a mindful approach, that we can shift from threat to what he calls ‘a reward state.’

These five areas are:  Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  (Dr. Rock has many published articles that are worth reading on the subject.  I recommend, “SCARF:  a Brain-Based Model for Collaborating with and Influencing Others.” ) But, for the purposes of helping you with your bully, here’s what I think you should know:  you can raise your own perceived status without lowering your bully’s, and in doing so, create a more peaceful dynamic.

1. Align and Engage. You must stop making yourself right and the bully wrong.  By focusing on what makes you different you are causing yourself to feel more isolated. Part of Dr. Rock’s SCARF model is that Relatedness has much to do with feeling good. Allow yourself to tell your bully that you can see his/her point of view and can even agree to it (only if this is the case – don’t be fake!).  This may trigger the sensation that you are lowering your own status, but you aren’t.  You are showing how BIG you really are.

2. Keep Your Feelings to Yourself.  There are times when transparency is very important to the health of a good working relationship.  This is not one of those times. Empower yourself with this mindful and silent phrase, “My feelings are none of his/her business.”  This means that if you are feeling panicked and want to cry out in the name of unfairness, stop! Even the slightest comment from someone who’s not a bully (but is playing with status as a high card) can make us feel bullied.  There is a senior member of a team that I’m on who was assigned a huge project (working with a previous employer of mine) and I was not included on the project.  When I suggested that I could offer history and help he said, “No, they only want to work with me.”  I was enraged and felt my status drop with blunt force.  It felt blindingly unfair. I almost told him to…well you know what that is…how unfair this was, blah blah blah.  Instead, I said to myself, Jackie, these feelings are none of his business. I detached immediately, feeling empowered by my self-control. I said, “I’m happy for the team and I know you’ll do a great job.”  He smiled and thanked me.  Most importantly, I took the high road.

3. Get Mindful.  Ask yourself what is it that kicks you in your pants around status, or any of these other social factors.  What kind of conditioning do you have that is still plaguing you?  It’s your job to discover what makes you tick and where you need to grow. Read about it.  Talk with a professional.  Ask for support. Stop blaming the bully and start taking responsibility for the victim, that is, you.

4. Become Influential. Pretend you are there to cultivate the talents of this bully (not by offering any feedback or advice; as per Dr. Rock, this could trigger a status alert and backfire!).  I mean to support this person in becoming more productive and create a window for his person to behave in a way that will accelerate his/her career.   For example, congratulate your bully on something well done. Do it publicly. Be specific.  Acknowledge what is good.  There’s a chance that this bully is starved for recognition.  This is not about ingratiating yourself as a lowly servant begging for a crumb!  Imagine feeding a starving child something nutritious.  You have the power!

5. Value The Lesson. I’ve written about this very topic before. That Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher!  How do you use this situation to propel yourself forward? What is your strategy from here?  It’s really in your control, having nothing to do with controlling another person.

6. Do Right.  You are a player in a hierarchical structure that is designed for its own survival, not yours. Fairness is one of the five social factors that Dr. Rock describes and it can kick us in our proverbial pants when we feel things aren’t fair. We’ve all seen it; huge salary vs. experience discrepancies, nepotism, lay-offs, closed-door policies, etc.  It’s the inherent dysfunction that ravages every organization where leaders lack self-awareness and actual leadership skills.  So you learn what it is to engage others, to raise the morale, to play fair and to be a good team-leader.  It’s a phenomenal opportunity to leverage your autonomy, and create rewarding outcomes.

I know…none of this is easy.  But as my Popop used to say to the very aggressive, sometimes bullying little ten-year old me, “The first one who yells loses.”  Your bully is losing whether you join in or not, so really there’s no threat to you.  Just focus on the greatness in you both and the rewards will follow.

Happy Connecting!

Jackie

(Note:  if you are experiencing any form of severe bullying, that is, being threatened, harrassed, and intimidated, you must report this to your management and to your human resources department.  Please use your best judgment and stay safe.)

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.