Stop Letting Labels in the Workplace Define You
This video was produced in the Philippines for Pantene. Take a look at it and I think you’ll find that it’s just as relevant in the US.
The video shows two people doing similar tasks like giving a speech, working late, and standing in front of a mirror. Men are persuasive while women are pushy. Men are dedicated, while women are selfish. Men are neat while women are vain. Men are smooth but women are show-offs.
Should we stop using these labels on ourselves and on other women, or should we embrace them?
As a lawyer and businesswoman, I know plenty of persuasive women. But I don’t think of these women as pushy. I see them as excellent brand ambassadors. They do a wonderful job of selling themselves, their product, and their teams. They have a consistent message and always back up their words with action.
Many men I know enter their careers with marriage and a family as an afterthought. On the other hand, I’ve known many women who embarked on a career but never took their eye off of their goal of marriage and family. Men obviously have a lot more flexibility when it comes to starting a family.
I also know a lot of women, myself included, who decided to forego the family part of the equation. Personally I knew from a very young age that I just wasn’t interested in having kids. Indeed, by the time I was in my late teens, I used to tell people that I was probably too “selfish” to be a good mother. Traveling was more important to me than diapers and college tuition.
I think working mothers have the hardest job in the world. I also find it astonishing that we use the word selfish in this context. Most mothers I know do an excellent job of prioritizing their kids, spouse, and job. They’re not always so good at putting their own oxygen mask on, though, since they’re last on their own list.
As I wrote this, I challenged myself to think of one woman I know who spends as much time on grooming and self-care as she wants. I can’t think of anyone over 18 who’s that self-absorbed – or has that kind of time.
During those difficult high school years our looks and image are everything. My friend Helena recently missed our morning walking session. Her 14-year-old granddaughter called her, frantically explained that she had an emergency, and that Helena had to come over immediately. Helena rushed to her side.
The emergency? A broken toenail. The crisis was that she couldn’t possibly go to school without a perfect pedicure. The irony is that Helena’s granddaughter is strikingly beautiful and has a body that most models would envy. I guarantee that no one looks at her toes.
Some of us, myself included, seemed to skip this part of high school. The rest of us usually outgrow this by the time we reach our late teens.
Most women I know, especially working mothers, are the best multi-taskers I know. They plan everything down to the minute and juggle a ton of competing priorities.
Part of being a great multi-tasker is being organized and detail-oriented. Working mothers manage school events, homework, dinner, sports, holidays, and much, much more, and make it look effortless. Is this showing off? If so, I’ll take it. I wish I had half as much grace and style as my friends who are working mothers.
If you think about it, these stereotypes aren’t a bad thing. Let’s see these stereotypes in action:
- Marketers: Passionate (pushy) about their brand, picky about their logos (vain), and image conscious (show-off)
- Attorneys: Advocate (push) their client’s case, selfish about putting boundaries around opposing client’s objections and document requests, and not afraid to show-off their skills in court
- Doctors: Relentless (pushy) about finding a cure for their patient, selfish (best interest of patient) about their patient’s comfort, and not afraid to show-off their medical expertise
I’m embracing these stereotypes while maintaining my femininity. And by the way, if you happen to know a great B2B marketer who’s a pushy, vain, show-off, please send them my way. I can always use a sprinkle of pixie dust on my marketing efforts.