No, you really do need to tone it down
January 23, 2015 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I read this recent question which had a lot of stories about women being told they are too "strident", "mean", "demanding", etc. at work. I have gotten feedback like this in the past too so I am wondering, is there some way to tell if it's just sexist bullshit or if you personally really do need to take it down a notch?

At the job where I used to get this feedback, I can see now in hindsight that it was an incredibly sexist atmosphere, but at the time I was genuinely in the dark about whether or not it was just me. And there was no one I could ask. I had a supervisor who I liked and trusted but who was not one to rock the boat by telling me the truth.

If you don't have any male peers on your team, is there some way that you can tell if they would be giving the same criticism to a man? Was there some way I could have figured it out? I tend to give myself the benefit of the doubt knowing that I do my best every day and am always polite while not hesitating to say what needs to be said to get my job done. It was kind of an aggressive atmosphere where I found myself being questioned and criticized over stuff that didn't seem fair to me, so I might have been more outspoken than you would expect if you knew me before. So I question myself because I also know that in some situations it's the case that no one is in the right because everyone is behaving badly.

I have just been wondering this for a really long time and that other question compelled me to finally ask. If it happens again I would like to be less clueless. For example, if I get similar feedback at a job with a less bullshit atmosphere, can I trust that it's accurate? Or, is it the case that as a women, I just can't trust any feedback on personal demeanor at all? Do men even get feedback like this ever?
posted by bleep to Work & Money (21 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
This is a hard one because on one hand, if the perception is that you're a hard ass, you have to alter your behavior to get along, whether the perception is sexist or not.

My thing was to pick my battles. Coffee and subservience was my battle.

In my past I was pretty negative, mostly because I was calling Bullshit on bullshit. No matter who does it, no one wants to hear what the problem is, or why something is going to fail, they don't even want to hear if you're concerned about it. My rule on that one was, "If it doesn't reflect on me personally, let them hang themselves. If someone will get hurt, or it's unethical, say something." I also picked time and place. Rather in a a meeting, where someone would lose face, I might wait until I could discuss privately one on one.

Women get this feedback all the time, especially smart and perceptive women. Men, no. It is sexist. And....until the world stops being sexist, sometimes you have to play the game.

But I'm old. And I came of age in my career in the eighties. I accept institutional sexism and I have hacks for dealing with it. I was sort of hoping it wasn't as bad as it used to be.

So it's still bad, and you may have to do some things you're uncomfortable with to move forward in a rigged game.

I'm sorry.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:49 AM on January 23, 2015 [12 favorites]

When in doubt consider the source. Who is telling you these things? And why? Ask them to provide an example. It is possible to do this without being confrontational, word it more like I just want to be clear so I don't do it again, what behavior are we discussing here? Can you give me an example.

This is usually the point that the more self aware person being sexist will start to squirm and um & aaah, the more oblivious ones may well give you an example, and then you can compare it to the behaviour of the men around you to decide for yourself if the behaviour is worth the comment and what you want to do about it.
posted by wwax at 9:00 AM on January 23, 2015 [13 favorites]

This is a great question. I thought it was just me too. A lot of us think it's just us. Here is what makes me think it is NOT just you, but sexism:

I do my best every day and am always polite while not hesitating to say what needs to be said to get my job done. It was kind of an aggressive atmosphere where I found myself being questioned and criticized over stuff that didn't seem fair to me, so I might have been more outspoken than you would expect if you knew me before.

It sounds like you were already conscious of what constitutes a professional demeanor and tried to display it. Also, it sounds like you were (albeit maybe subconsciously) pushing back against sexism in order to do a good job.

I'm starting to wonder about whether The System (I won't say "men" because this is a pervasive, insidious dynamic that individuals are caught up in) really wants women to do a good job in the workplace. Because it's looking an awful lot like the unspoken job description (similar to Paulo Freire, et. al.'s hidden curriculum) is to present as a courtesan -- "nice," attractive, and about as proactive as the rubber plant next to the water cooler.

Men, will you please weigh in and tell us whether nitpicking on "demeanor," "attitude" and such happens to you in the workplace as well?
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

You can also try some radical honesty - if you are feeling defensive, angry, judgy, haughty, entitled, righteous, or want to show another person up when you speak, your tone will convey that. Your message may be spot on but the tone behind it could set people's hackles up. I am fairly "bitchy" but I've learned when to turn it on and when I need to sit this one out because I'm too worked up to communicate effectively at that moment.

There's nothing wrong with being demanding provided you expect as much of yourself as well. But if you are being demanding "you owe this to me underling" then people won't like it. Tone is everything.

Environment is everything. (And sometimes people do pick a scapegoat!)

In the end you can't please all the people all the time... as long as your honest intentions are good intentions without subconscious anger or ego or ill-will then don't worry too much if you piss people off or don't fit their expectations of you.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:12 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

How are you in your personal life? It's the rare person who is a pushy loud-mouth only at work. Or even a chatterbox only at work. Ask a trusted friend if you're not sure.

How is the criticism delivered and what is being asked of you? Criticism that is either mean-spirited or asks for stupid/impossible stuff may or may not reflect an actual character flaw on your part, but it's obviously not intended to help you and you should be really cautious. If someone in your role were too aggressive/chatty/etc, what do you think helpful feedback and meaningful standards would look like? How does your behavior compare?

You can be too chatty (for example) and get unfair feedback - this happened to me at several critical moments in college, for instance, and looking back I can see how sexist and harmful it actually was. It's not that I didn't need to pipe down a bit; it's that only I was told to pipe down, and it was articulated and framed in really harmful terms on the assumption that a woman who was talky was extra bad and being extra selfish/awful.

But honestly - the standards for the job are set by the job. If there's a truth to be found, it's within you. The question always has to be "too aggressive for what?". Are you being too aggressive to be able to engage in productive and ethical relationships with others? That might be a personal truth. Otherwise, I think it has to be survival issues - how can you survive and get ahead and make your paycheck?

Maybe look at senior women in related roles? (If there aren't any, well, that tells you something right there.) How aggressive are they? How do they speak? It's possible that you are "too aggressive" for your level, but that you can move through that.
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

A good rule of thumb is to be conscious of when you are attempting to overcompensate for other people's failings at their jobs. If you aren't officially the managers of those other people, tread especially carefully if there's a situation where you are "not hesitating to say what needs to be said to get your job done."

If you are not in a management position, it can be really easy to come across as domineering and even shrill once you start trying to manage the work your peers are doing. They might actually have a point if you are being overbearing, and we can't really know from your description. I think one of the weirder things I've learned as I've grown up professionally is that a lot of people don't actually care that much about how good a job they're doing at their job, and they certainly aren't interested in hearing about it from one of their coworkers if that person isn't their boss, especially if they've worked at the company longer than you have.

In some situations, work relationships are more important than job performance as long as a person isn't blatantly screwing up and ruining projects and losing customers. If the work you're doing is more important to you than how well you are getting along with your coworkers, it's possible you're coming across like you don't actually like any of them or don't like being there. And if you don't actually like them, I mean... maybe that's accurate? Maybe you'd be legitimately happier somewhere else, and people sense that?

I've seen men get in trouble for bad behavior at work if they're acting out of hand, but honestly I haven't seen many cases where men are plainly trying to boss around their peers at work if they aren't their boss. I have occasionally worked with women who acted like that, though (I am a woman, btw). It really depends on the individual and the work environment. I'm no wallflower, either. I care about my work, have a reputation for doing excellent work, and the people who work with me know that I don't take crap from nobody. But do try to be wary of blatantly trying to manage people if you aren't their manager.
posted by wondermouse at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Do men even get feedback like this ever?

Yeah. While I would never compare my experience to the bullshit women have to go through, I've had several jobs where I was told I was "hard to deal with" because of "my personality" or people "were afraid" to talk to me about certain issues. I get slightly sarcastic sometimes, but I am always polite and and not the least bit physically intimidating or scary. And one of these was the same job where men who screamed at the top of their lungs and made female colleagues feel physically unsafe were tolerated and even celebrated.

The thing is, you can *always* feel free to ignore feedback from assholes. *Could* I be slightly better in some ways in how I interact with people? Of course, I'm not Gandhi. Is the burden ON ME to become an absolutely perfect human being in the workplace? NO IT ABSOLUTELY IS NOT. No one is perfect, and the feedback I mentioned above was given with the goal of gaslighting, making me question myself, and protecting the favorites who behaved 1000 times worse than I would ever dream of. Even if there might be technically some "truth" in it, I call that kind of stuff the bullshit it is and ignore it as a matter of policy.

Most criticism is the workplace is bullshit, actually. If a supervisor who you like and trust says it in a review, or in the context of genuinely trying to help, maybe think about it. Otherwise, it's just some asshole's opinion. No one likes everyone or is liked by everyone. That's life.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]

When in doubt consider the source. Who is telling you these things? And why?

This is good to remember. Context can help with this a lot. Last week I was pulled aside by a male colleague telling me I need to let other people have a chance to speak up in meetings. He did not do this to any of the other vocal men in the room, just to me - a fairly young (for the room) woman. Given that he and I have had personal issues in the past, and the fact that I openly questioned him and corrected him in the meeting I filed away this incident in the "yes, he's an asshole" file. And while I will continue to be mindful of letting people have a chance to speak up and participate, I'm not going to meekly acquiesce to the group of guys who always get to talk. In other meetings I was in (run by men and women) during the conference, I spoke up often and it was appreciated. This leads me to believe that in the context of that meeting, with that group of players (in a female dominated field), it was kind of because I was a woman, but also because we just don't get along. I'm not going to change the course much.

(At the same conference, I and other woman were using Twitter to talk about the tendency of men to dominate meetings with their own soapboxes. It helped me feel a little better.)

Maybe look at senior women in related roles? (If there aren't any, well, that tells you something right there.) How aggressive are they? How do they speak? It's possible that you are "too aggressive" for your level, but that you can move through that.

I've started doing this and it has been very illuminating. I work in one industry that is very female dominated, but men tend to be in management more. I work in another that was traditionally male dominated, but more and more women are in the ranks now and moving up. I've been watching and emulating some of the very forthright and assertive women in that group because they know how to get stuff done and run meetings, things I haven't been able to see in the other group as effectively. This is good advice for men and women, but it has helped me see how far people can go with certain tactics.

Also remember "strident" for some might be refreshing for others.
posted by kendrak at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do men even get feedback like this ever?

Sure, positive and negative. However, I have a very poor sense if it's as common or as judgey as what women experience. I do some semi-public work, so feedback and criticism is something I get relatively frequently as I'm in front of people a fair bit.

I have the impression that I get it more from women than men, curiously enough, both positive and negative. Given someone I can trust, as described above, often I find it a very useful way to judge my performance and behaviour. However comments from someone I don't trust, or am in a confrontational situation with, can be real problems. The best way I've found to judge whether I should take someone's feedback seriously or not is to talk with others who also deal with that person. Common threads, good or bad, often appear. Others' experiences with a particular individual help provide a lot of the context in which I understand how to react to or internalize snipes or even compliments.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on January 23, 2015

I'm among the women in that thread who commented about being asked to "tone it down". Here's how I know which feedback to take seriously, and which to shrug at or, considering the source and how it's presented to me, emotionlessly say "we're here to work together, not make personal remarks." It really does depend.

When in doubt consider the source. Who is telling you these things? And why?

Amen. As I've written before on MeFi, I was exceptionally lucky to have had wonderful teachers growing up. Never once was I EVER told to "tone it down", whether by teachers or friends. As a matter of fact, as late as university I was still being told by teachers that I needed to speak up more often; be less afraid to share my ideas.

Thus it was with great shock that I entered the working world and encountered "omg you're... IMPRESSIVE... you're too tall, it's too much, you're too direct, tone it down." Note that all those statements are generic. I always asked for context and concrete explanations: what exactly had gone wrong? what could have gone more smoothly? was there a behavior I was missing out on that I could adopt to help relationships move along? I never got answers to any of those questions.

It took me a while (see: no experience with it before) to realize that the only people saying these things to me, were without exception, overbearing men who always had to get their way. You know the type. I never heard it from women colleagues, ever. I never heard it from men who listened well.

And in time, I made stronger connections at work with whom I could bounce off feedback. This is a great way to mutually discern and work on improvement areas, WHEN you are lucky enough to meet people who want to do that and are sincere about it. Interestingly enough, my favorite helpful colleague, who's known me for years, gave me tips on how to deal with... the overbearing Always Have To Be Right guys. And yes, I was doing something "wrong!" I was trying to be heard with them! Colleague was all, "lol you're doing the same thing I did before I realized they're never going to listen. Here's the tip: just smile and nod. Think of colleagues who trust you. Don't worry about the hotheads. And if bad luck means one of them gives you your review, you're already doing the right thing: asking for examples and solutions. So, eh, no worries, all you need to do is accept the 'no worries' approach."

It might help to add that said colleague is, while a man, also a member of a minority in the country where I live. He actually approached me one day, laughing, saying that he had noticed that I got sexist crap that smelled very similar to his racist crap, and had I noticed it too? (I had indeed, sigh.) So he's veeeerrrry accustomed to being overlooked for promotion and having his input diminished too. Past a certain point, the best thing you can do is indeed to shrug it off, keep doing the best job you can, and build a support system of trustworthy, hard-working people. It works.
posted by fraula at 9:53 AM on January 23, 2015 [12 favorites]

Some quick real life examples.

Bad boss: "Hey, I've noticed that after 80 hours in one week, you seem a little frazzled. You need to stop being so emotional." (yes, he really said that, and in a meeting full of my peers).

Good boss: "Hey, I didn't want to call you out in the meeting, but can we talk about what happened in the 10 o'clock meeting? I noticed you got pretty irritated, and when you get irritated, you get VERY sarcastic. I know it can be really hard. But instead of saying, 'WHY DID I MAKE A PRESENTATION IF YOU'RE JUST GOING TO INTERRUPT ME?', try taking a deep breath and saying, 'I'll be glad to answer all questions at the end of the presentation'. I'll back you up on that one. Normally I wouldn't say anything, but because $Foo is two levels higher than us in the org chart, I need you to be a bit more mindful of how you handle those situations, especially in very visible meetings like that one. OK? Let me know if next time you want to rehearse and we can practice roleplaying interruptions and so forth. You're a really valuable member of the team and I want people to see how great you are." (this boss is also a guy, but talked to me in the afternoon, and did help me rehearse and practice for the next meeting with $Foo, which went much better. Also, in talking with my teammates, I know this is how he coaches all of us, not just the women.)
posted by RogueTech at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [24 favorites]

As a fairly nerdy bloke, who wasn't always very good at picking up on social nuances in the past I have been criticised for being rude / blunt to other people at work. What was aggravating about the feedback was that my boss felt that he had to pass it on, but couldn't actually give me a concrete example so I could learn from it!

Being your classic early 20s programmer, I think at the time I put it down to internal company clients asking for the impossible & being hurt when told bluntly that what they wanted wasn't going to happen. I hope I've got slightly better at managing people since then, but I've never been very good at suffering fools gladly, so who knows?

I guess the above implies it does happen to at least *some* men, but like the OP, I have no way to calibrate whether my behaviour really was particularly egregious, nor whether the women in the company were held to different standards at the time.
posted by pharm at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2015

This is really challenging to unpack sometimes. Because yeah, women do get this crap more than men, and it's often completely unwarranted, but women CAN be inappropriately pushy, rude, etc. just like men can.

Becoming a manager myself has given me a good perspective about this. I went to a great management training where we were taught that when giving feedback, you need to be careful to feedback about SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR (and the effect it has) and not personality. So for instance instead of "people on the team think you're mean" a good manager would say "hey, I noticed that when X(teammember) suggested Y(idea), you snorted and smirked. Let's talk about that."

So there's two things about this - one, the manager is making a specific observation and two, they are starting a dialogue about it and letting the employee explain their thought process, not just making an accusation.

But of course this is about you, not your manager. What do you do if the person giving you feedback hasn't had this kind of training? Ask for specific examples. Do so in a way that makes it clear you're not trying to lawyer your way out of this, you want to learn. If they can't give examples, then it's probably bullshit. If their examples don't line up with what you remember, talk about it.

I think this is where it's also good to have allies in the workplace you can go to for honest feedback. Women are going to be your best bet, but a (super with-it) guy might work too. This is not your office BFF/cheerleader who will just tell you you're awesome. This is a person you work with and whose opinion and way of working with others you respect. This is a person you can go to and say "I wonder if I was a bit of a bulldozer in that meeting. I want your honest opinion - do you think there's a better way I could have gone about that?" This can be really invaluable.

Finally, if you're in an aggressive, pushy, sexist workplace, well, of COURSE you were aggressive and pushy! I think the key is being able to figure out what works in a given workplace and adjusting your style to that. But there are going to be places where the cards are stacked against women, and if you "fail" in an environment like that, it's not a reflection of your talents or character.
posted by lunasol at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Author Kameron Hurley just posted a great essay on this topic this morning: On Being Too Smart and Assertive in the Workplace. It made me want to go back to my straight-talkin' roots.

In my experience, I've encountered quite a bit of this kind of "feedback". My default assumption was that people are always acting in good faith, and that was a problem in this scenario: I accepted their feedback as truth, rather than their opinion. It was only months/years after leaving the respective jobs that I was able to look back and realize that the dudes delivering that feedback were shitty bosses.

I've only just reached the point where I can tell within 24 hours of an experience that someone's being a shitty boss, and that's because:
  • I've encountered it so many times in the past that I can calmly recognize the pattern and evaluate whether the feedback is valid
  • I finally had an amazing, supportive boss whom I compare all others to.

posted by homodachi at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

bleep: "For example, if I get similar feedback at a job with a less bullshit atmosphere, can I trust that it's accurate? Or, is it the case that as a women, I just can't trust any feedback on personal demeanor at all? Do men even get feedback like this ever?"

Ask another woman you work with who impresses you as a good communicator. Other women who share your concerns about sexism vs. honest feedback will better be able to give you honest feedback, especially if they have a communication style you admire. Not necessarily one you want to emulate, but one you admire: One of my mentors is a woman who is the most calm, zen person on the planet, and I am mouthy and sarcastic and passionate. But I really closely watch how she communicates with people and how she gets work done with groups, and I trust her feedback to me. I've learned a lot from watching her even though I'll never be the sort of calm, quiet person she is.

Men sometimes do. I had a very amusing (well, for me from the outside) work situation where a man and a woman in comparable roles, who had the EXACT SAME PERSONALITY, were like cats in a sack and both kept constantly accusing the other of having poor people skills, bad communication, and being too direct, too abrupt, needing to tone it down, etc. They each felt they as an individual were appropriately honest and direct, and their counterpart was rude. Now, the feedback the woman was getting from her direct reports was colored with a level of sexism not present in the feedback the man was getting, but the truth was they both were human steamrollers and needed to take it down a notch. (They were both great, effective managers who had zero patience for bullshit or screwups, but neither held a grudge, so a lot of people LOVED working for them because they'd say, "It's wrong, do it over" without any hemming and hawing and wouldn't hold it against you once you got it right; but obviously a lot of people found that sort of working style very stressful. Their problem was neither could adjust to deal with people who found it stressful, and both had risen high enough in the organization to be managing large, diverse groups of people in a variety of roles instead of a small team that could be composed entirely of no-nonsense types.)

I think men can give you good feedback, but it has to be men you like and trust, who like and admire you and your work, who aren't sexist themselves. The guy I can go to and say, "I don't know how to deal with client Joe Schmoe, since he thinks women should be seen and not heard and you KNOW that's not me" -- he is someone I can trust to tell me, "Your obvious disdain for his stupidity is coming through, crank it back" vs. "You're charming, he's going to blow you off no matter what."

Helpful feedback is also more often in the mode of, "When you do X, Y happens" rather than "Be less X." Something like: "When you get really passionate, you tend to speak in absolutes, and I think it's turning some people off because they're hearing you say they're bad and wrong and tuning out, so they're not getting the message about how they can do better and why they should." That's more helpful than, "Be less passionate," or "Be less passionate, it's offputting."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:10 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

Start paying attention to, and documenting, any instances of discriminatory behavior, no matter how significant. Ask your supervisor to look for specific instances of the behavior at issue so that you know what behavior to change. Be as calm as possible, no cussin', no loud voice, no annoyance. always know that your relationship with your boss, and support from your boss, is critical to your success.

Any complainers think they want you to be 'nicer.' What they really want is for you to be male, or not right, or not to be there because they wish they or their buddy had your job. Be courteous. But keep on being right, strong, competent. Document your successes loudly and often. Note their failures. It's office politics plus sexism, it's not much fun, but it can get you out the door when you don't want to go.

Leave when you're ready, for something better. Give your documentation to HR when you go. I can tell from experience that leaving for something better and providing evidence of the supervisor's incompetence is satisfying. So is getting a settlement if you choose to file a formal complaint.
posted by theora55 at 11:49 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's what has worked for me:

- Don't work in clearly toxic environments, if you can at all avoid it. Some people are unabashedly sexist. Stick with places where at least their belief is that that women matter. Then, you can proceed from the common ground that women are human and allowed to be good at things. You won't have to deal with the worst of that Askme post, where people say things like "I will never take orders from a woman" and the like.

- There are a few types of toxic cultures: the sole Sexist Male Boss, the finance/Big Law/corporate type, the Silicon Valley/Nerf Ball/gamer/startup type, the "men are all bosses, women are all subordinates" hospital or school type, the macho industry type, the small company run by crazy people type, etc. Learn to recognize and stay away.

- If you're in a generally good environment, just listen to people's concerns. Think about how to show them you are listening. Know that you are allowed to be a person, to have opinions, thoughts, voice your views, be competent. That's not at issue. The real question is how to get along with this particular person, which may require some concessions (if it's your boss, co-worker, etc.)

- I get coffee for people and do other things that are thought of as "female", like taking notes. I think it gives me a lot of power. I'm not the waitress; I am a host. I bring them food and drink. They are on my home ground, and depend on me for sustenance (mwahaha). I take notes because I want to make sure that I don't miss anything and that I can hold everyone accountable for what happened at the meeting. I think getting coffee and taking notes is actually a hugely under-appreciated power move. It's incredibly disarming.

- If you have any power in hiring, try to bring on some people who will change the culture for the better and be your allies against sexism. Even a neutral culture with 2 or 3 people who think sexism is silly and wrong will be more helpful than anything you can do yourself. There is strength in numbers. (Note: these people need not be female.)
posted by 3491again at 12:21 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm a man so please take with a grain of salt: Lots of companies have dysfunctional management structures created by men. If you become part of this structure, you often end up mirroring what you see around you. I don't know if you are a manager or just a worker bee, but there is a wealth of literature and knowledge out there about how to (win friends and) influence people without seeming confrontational.

How about taking a progressive management or coaching workshop, or a business communication workshop if you are a worker bee? You'll find a bunch people who are looking for a better way because their current style isn't working for them, and (especially if the workshop is woman-led) you might get a better feel for what is generally "too much" for anyone to deal with versus the sorts of behaviors that are unfairly tolerated more in men. It's possible to get your points across strongly without seeming strident. There's a whole art to it and when you get good at it, it can seem like magic.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:39 PM on January 23, 2015

The gates of speech are what I find worth observing:

1: is it true?
2: is it necessary to say this?
3: is it the appropriate time and place?
4: is it kind / can it be said in a way it can be received?
posted by jet_silver at 5:49 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Men, will you please weigh in and tell us whether nitpicking on "demeanor," "attitude" and such happens to you in the workplace as well?

Of course! Absolutely. I'm kind of shocked that anyone would even wonder if this happens.

I've even heard from a female coworker that she thinks she doesn't receive this kind of feedback (particularly from a male supervisor) because she's a woman. And this didn't surprise me.
posted by jejune at 7:06 PM on January 23, 2015

Well...if there's anything I've learned in my current job, everything is in the eye of the beholder. Who is telling you this stuff, and do you have to listen to them? If it's your supervisor or higher-ups, then.... well, whether it's empirically true about you or not, the perception is that you are, and you're going to have to take public steps to mitigate it. If it's....I dunno, random coworkers on your level being bitchy, maybe not so much. Are they making it Your Problem or just being difficult?

Also: are these criticisms you hear from loved ones, or other women? If it's a truth universally acknowledged by both men and women and your nearest and dearest that you are pushy, then odds are, you're actually pushy. But if your relatives and friends, especially other women, disagree...then maybe it's just Them. But if higher-ups are complaining, then whether it's true or not, you might to ah....take that into consideration, because then you kinda have to.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:26 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Help Me ID this Communication Style   |   Is there a way to link to someone's calendar from... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.