It is not easy for anyone to be respected in a job. Even though someone has the experience and desire to do a good job, you often have to prove yourself when you come to an office. So it is no surprise that I have noticed that many women feel they have to be “tough” and just like men to get ahead in the business world. There is a point to me saying this, just be patient.
I was talking with a coworker and she let it inadvertently slip that she was sponsoring a child from a developing nation. I probably made a silly joke that she responded to without thinking. Anyway, once she realized that I knew she told me “Don’t tell anyone ok?” I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone, but was curious and asked her why. Her response surprised me even more.
“If people knew I was sponsoring a child, they would think I was rich and getting paid a lot,” she said.
“So let me get this straight I said.,” I said. “Don’t tell anyone you are a good person so they think you’re just a tough no-nonsense woman right”
“Exactly.,” she said.
I never told anyone. I thought it was fascinating that when people act tough they don’t give others the chance to be vulnerable as well. One of the things I have learned in IT is that everyone has computer problems, no matter how knowledgeable you are. Even I have IT problems that aren’t immediately obvious. I find the solution, but having a problem doesn’t mean you are less of a professional.
In an interview, or really anytime you deal with anyone else you have to show you are human and have weaknesses. When an interviewer asks what my weaknesses are I sincerely say “How much time do you have?” They usually laugh, but knowing your faults is part of what makes you effective. You not only have to push yourself to grow but also know your limitations. When I sense there is a limitation that is best addressed by someone else, I tell them. I am not the answer to everything, and I don’t have to be.