More Tina Fey Than Cinderella

I just learned about the “tiara syndrome.” It’s a valuable business lesson and it actually has a name.

The founders of Negotiating Inc., describe the Tiara Syndrome this way: “Women expect that, if they keep doing their job well, someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head.”

Wow, this is a gender problem? That’s even more disturbing.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you know that self-advocacy is a faster way to recognition than silence and hope. This is a personality trait, not a gender issue. But, I suppose, if women are far less likely to self-advocate than men, now we have a gender issue, not just a personality trait.

However, can women self-advocate the same way that men do and achieve the same result? Now there’s a loaded question.

Think about what it takes to self-advocate. Boldness, articulation, self-assuredness and confidence all come to mind. These traditionally are traits that are rewarded in men and perceived differently in women. That’s not a judgement. It’s an observation of fact.

Frequently, but unintentionally, I illicit friction from others merely by being myself. I tend to have more confidence than average, articulate more, am naturally more direct and blaringly honest. This is a summary of my strengths and also my weaknesses.

I move at a fast pace mentally, and when I’m rushing, I take shortcuts that might be efficient, but frequently aren’t effective. Not when interacting with people. That requires care and patience. For me it also often requires overcompensation.

Everyone has room to improve. Trying to over correct is a great way to find middle ground.

In an effort to be awesome, sometimes I try too hard. When I get excited, maybe I get too verbal. Effusiveness and energy can be welcome. But telling 1 too many jokes, or interrupting someone because you want fast clarification can backfire on a relationship.

I’ve noticed that others tend to say “sorry” more often than I do. I don’t mean apologizing for wrong doing; I’m very quick to apologize for wrong doing. It’s more of a manner of interpersonal communication. For example, you notice someone is in your assigned seat on the plane, you say “I’m sorry, but I believe that is my seat.” Or, “I’m sorry, I ordered the tilapia, not the chicken that I was served.”

A lot can be gained from a “Give to Get” manner. Parents give responsibility to a child and get respect in return. Negotiators give a concession to get one in return. Supervisors give a perk to subordinates and gain a happy and productive worker. Give trust to receive it.

More to come, still learning.


6 Ways to Thrash and Burn Your Blind Spots

Confession – This problem of mine has been improved over time but it is my kryptonite.

Ever offended someone unknowingly and responded by saying, “But I didn’t mean it that way”.  If so, read on.

Fortunately for me, I’ve worked for some great managers that would not tolerate such an insufficient response.  They know that perception is reality and if you offend someone, your intentions are dwarfed by your result.  If you are in sales, you cannot afford to miss this lesson.

Listen to how others react to you.  This might be overt like in a verbal way.  Or it might be subtle, as in people just clam up on you.  Notice this.  Most people won’t give you an explanation when it’s unpleasant.  Only those who truly care about you will give you that chance, and even many of them won’t even risk offending you back.

Don’t Justify what your intent was.  It doesn’t matter once you’ve offended someone.  All that matters is their feelings, not your unpolished intent.  Once you’ve offended someone, the only response is, “I’m sorry.”

Own it.  Take personal responsibility for everything that comes from you, all words and all actions.  There’s simply no alternative if you wish for the respect and trust of others.

Get outside yourself and try as best as you can to see it from their perspective.  Some people can do this.  Many cannot.  Work on it.  Begin with awareness.

Consider the source.  If someone tells you something and it seems they might be wrong, ask yourself about that person.  Have they accomplished things that evade you?  More friends?  Better career?  Parenting success?  If yes, their wisdom is your freebie so take it.

Be gracious.  Accept all compliments with grace.  Suppress the urge to neutralize the gift of a compliment.  Don’t deny others’ joy in giving them to you.