Working in an office setting can be very difficult if you are not a straight white man. If you are a person of color or a woman, it can be hard for you to navigate office settings. If you are a person of color AND a woman it can be downright impossible. You don’t want to be labeled as moody, difficult, or the angry black woman. As much process as women have made over the years, there are still many glass ceilings and doors that we must break through.
Like many of my peers, who are just starting into their career industries, we may not the skills to properly navigate office setting especially when it is time to stand up for themselves or something they want. You want to be assertive and give Olivia Pope/Annalise Keating vibes but you also don’t want it to turn into a Mona Scott production of Love and Hip Hop.
On the other hand, standing up for yourself on a certain issue is necessary because if you don’t advocate for yourself no one else will. And yes, it could be difficult. I have reached out to other professional women of color for tips on how to handle these situations in the workplace.
1. Take Time to Cool Off
When you are frustrated, you often use words that you should not say and it probably isn’t the best time to discuss the issue. Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the issue. This is multi-beneficial because you have the time to gather you thoughts and your boss will be open to listening to you.
2. Be Assertive/Not Aggressive
Keep a professional tone. It is important to stay firm on the issues but be sure you are not being confrontational. Keep it cool, calm and collective. Choose your words carefully and use a lot of “I” statements. Don’t play the blame game or play the victim. Make your stand on the issues and defend your points with facts.
3. Pick Your Battles
Stay focus on the issue at hand. Prepare for your meeting with your boss by making a list of goals and topics that you would like to accomplish and talk about. Try not to stray from the topic at hand; this could come off as unprepared and the topic you want to discuss could be overlooked.
4. The Great Comeback
If the conversation does not go as planned or you don’t get the outcome you hoped for. That is ok. Don’t be afraid to revisit the topic with your boss at a later date. If you don t feel that your boss is taking your stance on the subject seriously. Don’t be afraid to go to someone else in management with your issues. If this issue at hand is a serious matter to you, make that known.
This week at work, I disagreed with my boss on an issue. I was hesitant to challenge her because I am new to the company and I am one of 3 black women who working my department of 30+ people. However, I wanted to express my opinion on the matter and let her know the reasons behind my arguments because she may not have had them in mind. I scheduled a meeting to sit with her when I knew she wasn’t busy and we spoke. There was some back and forth but by the end of the conversation she agreed with my points and decided that my approach to the situation was best. I know that not all discussions will not go that way but it is good know that I can if I need to and have the tools to help me through it.
Reaching out to other woman of color about our struggles and challenges can help us find solutions to common problems. We need to build a community of resources within us. That is only way we will survive. If we don’t help ourselves no one else will.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.