I’ve been in the workforce for 15 years. Here are a few things that I’ve learned about gaining respect at work, especially from the men that I’ve worked with.
Keep the tears to yourself.
Women are emotional. We just are. And sometimes those emotions manifest in tears. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve broke down in tears at work before. It’s been rare but it has happened. Maybe the tears are from anger, sadness, or even happiness. My Aunt Joeldean cries whenever something makes her really happy. It doesn’t mean she is weak. It’s just part of who she is.
The tears I’m talking about are the ones of manipulation. Don’t use tears to get your way. It may work for the short term. But in the long term, it won’t win you any respect. Your boss will not appreciate being manipulated, and your co-workers will never take you seriously.
Know your shit.
You won’t know everything. And you’re not expected to, at least in the beginning of a new job. So recognize what you don’t know and do your research. Listen. Ask questions. Learn.
The people who come in with the attitude that they already know everything and refuse to do those things will fail. As women, we can’t afford to do that. We have to work three times as hard as men to be taken seriously. It sucks, but it’s the way things are. So, learn your shit, so that you can know your shit.
Know that you have to take care of yourself.
Don’t expect the men you work with to protect you. You’re their co-worker, not their wife, mother, or daughter. They will not fight your battles for you, and they won’t appreciate it if you expect them to do so.
I have to deal with unruly customers, male and female, all the time. I can’t call my male co-workers to deal with an unruly customer just because he’s male. It’s my job to deescalate the situation and deal with it.
Keep your private life private.
I don’t think people should be judged by how they live their lives. But the fact is that we are. Women much more so than men. If you want to post photos of yourself on Facebook partying and drinking, or in your bikini on the beach. Go for it! Just don’t friend your boss. You don’t want him or her thinking about those pictures when you come up for a promotion. The focus should always be on your work and what you bring to the company.
Know your place.
Which is right there at the table with those men. Women are told all the time that we need to lean in, and we do. We need to make our presence known. Don’t forget that. You’ve worked hard and earned you place. Know that! And make sure those men you work with know it to.