I'm Not Angry... am I?
Naw, I ain’t angry. I like to say I am assertive, right? Let’s define both to get a little clarity.
- having a strong feeling of or showing annoyance, displeasure, or hostility; full of anger.
1. having or showing a confident and forceful personality.
Welp, on some days I am a mixture of both. Solange’s song ‘Mad” quickly became a song I played driving into work every morning. Frankly, I believe in being present in my feelings. I want to make sure I am not suppressing it. It helps me get over the obstacle and execute the problem. But what happens when you get that annoying ass email or passive aggression undertone from members in a meeting and you want to react? I have noticed even for myself- women- but especially women of color have a smaller window to be expressive or display disappointment without negative blacklash. Earlier in my career, I can remember shooting off heated responses to the PA emails sent my way. Somehow my response painted me in the negative light and not the person prompting it. I would always hear, “ Oh, you know how they are” or “Don’t be so emotional. They didn’t mean it that way.” *Insert side eye*
I remember one time, I was so passionate about a project that included certain EEOC measures in our ATS. I had all my data points laid out and was speaking with fervor and eloquence- so I thought! The feedback was that I was combative and not collaborative. At the time, I was heated but not I am grateful for that feedback. I recognized my fault in this and if I was going into damage control for my career I needed to be responsible for myself and my actions.
I have read about the “angry black female” stereotype in the workplace in several books. One of my faves discusses it: The Sister Are Alright and “Why Black Women Are SO Tired Of The ‘Angry Black Woman’ Label” If you follow any of my social media- I am a lover of history and fact finding. It is rare I will retweet or share something without doing my own research. But historically we know how certain stereotypes can stick to one group or another. ‘White women are fragile or damsels in distress’ what about ‘Spicy Latinas’ or ‘Asian women are submissive’… and ‘Black women have attitudes’.
Tiring. Even reading that makes me cringe. Quite frankly, I know women in all categories that defy those general statements. What makes me happy though is that all the women I know are equally vested to help change the narrative for all of us. But yo. Still… even at work, there are people that won’t say good morning or even acknowledge me since the day I started. Did I get mad? Nope. Not at all. I ignore them like they ignore me. (God is still working on me, sis) But somehow, when the feedback came full circle to me- I was the one that was unapproachable or seemed like I was having a bad day.
I didn’t address it. I never address this stuff. Maybe I should. But then it will seem like I am being sensitive. The thing is… I speak to those that respect and speak to me. I am very aware of those you can consider to be ‘workplace allies” and those that are not. There are enough people that can counter the negative or even the neutral comments about me with positive. Keep that in mind, sis. Do not be discouraged. Do not feel like you have to engage everyone either. Everyone will not like you and that is OKAY! But stay professional, keep your skills sharp, ask logical questions when needed, show up & show out… and they will eventually respect you.
Even I have become comfy with the idea of not being besties with folks at work. Focusing on a common goal and keeping my personal emotions in check has saved me. Otherwise, I could only imagine all the wack emails I would’ve sent! Thinking of it makes my armpits itch. Sheeesh. Anyways, what are some ways you can focus on building a positive professional reputation? Keep it in check girl and work your magic!