I hope this letter finds you well. I hope you come across this letter in a time when you are able to speak your mind, believe what you want and do what makes you happy. I hope you are free.
Speaking of freedom, I want to remind you of a phrase my mom used often “my rights begin where yours end and vice versa.” If I have to be honest, I didn’t know WHAT she was talking about. I thought she was talking about taking over my life and I was so upset that I had to abide by her rules before she would even take mine into consideration!!!
This world has cleared it up for me. See my rights are as important as yours, my opinion is AS important as my peers, their way of life is AS important as mine. Simple as that. While my safety and well-being will be my priority to me by nature, at some point I have to give in to reason and thought. I have to see that I am social and I don’t live in this world alone. My opinion and views will be shared and disputed by many, and that’s ok.
There will come a time my darling when you will be put on the spotlight and your opinion on specific topics will be necessary. In those times, it is imperative that you speak your truth. Boldly and respectfully, if possible. I pray that by the time that day comes you have gained enough information on said topics that you are able to articulate your views properly.
I know sometimes it might feel like we are always fighting for the same cause over and over but you can’t give up. Every statistic starts and breaks with 1. Be the change you want to see my darling and never, EVER stop doing what is right. As I’ve said to you before, do as much good as you can with the little time I have on this planet. I’ll do my best to back you up, and when I’m long gone there is a sisterhood who is here; and many more depending on your breakthroughs to kickstart their own.
“When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive.”
I saw this quote on a Girls Scouts website and I couldn’t help but wonder… if this is true, then what should a woman do when she needs to be heard but doesn’t want to be perceived as aggressive? In my own experience I find this to be true. As an only child growing up you would think my mom hung on every word I said however, I grew up surrounded by a very large extended family where I was the baby. The youngest one’s views are always regarded as small and cute. Yet when the views are serious and my passion on a topic has made its way to the surface, I find people calling me things like dramatic, overreactive, emotional. Not passionate, assertive or driven. I’m not one to back down but over time I’ve learned to alter my approach. I have a lot to say but, I’m learning everyday new and better ways to tell my story and express myself so for some clarity and perspective I asked some men and women I respect this question. They are career women, students, employees and even some cool kids I know.
Here’s what they had to say:
When you are looking to be respected, valued, and heard how you look plays a big role. This doesn’t mean you have to be a certain color, height, weight or shape. It does however mean you should be put together well, smell good and dressed appropriately. In an ideal world these things wouldn’t matter but in a business meeting there is certain attire that is appropriate that would not be appropriate for an athletic competition. Some examples they gave were:
- Put your makeup on
- Dress the part
- Neat hair
The dictionary defines tone as “the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.” So, when it is time to be heard delivery can determine if you will be heard or disregarded. The tips they gave were the following:
- Express your passion on the subject matter without yelling, scolding or whispering.
- Be direct and firm, not angry. A lot of times fluff or added speeches will change the entire feeling of an interaction.
- Be kind and respectful.
- Use a low, controlled, measured speech – think of a the tone a narrator often uses when telling a story
- Some situations require the release of tension so the importance of it can be perceived. This should not be overused. But, like any comedian can tell you, a good balance of seriousness with a little comic intermission can speak volumes and help your cause.
“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)
- The actual words you use are as important as how you use them. If you are speaking in a professional environment but you are using improper jargons people will no longer pay attention because they know you do not know what you’re talking about.
- If you must write it down please, oh please don’t forget to SPELL CHECK.
- Have your facts straight.
Benjamin Franklin said it best “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. With this in mind the people have spoken, and they said:
- Check your emotions at the door. The best and worst part of being a girl is our hearts. We have the ability to think rationally but many times get caught up in a whirlwind of emotions and that can cloud our better judgements and jumble our words.
- Be ready to listen with the intent to listen not the intent to respond
“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.” Aung Sang Suu Kyi
I don’t preach this to my daughter in these exact words, although I might have to start now. But, I do try to preach it by action. For this reason my daughter’s answer to this question was simple. She said to me “she should be aggressive if she needs to, who cares what people think”. I had to clear somethings up of course. I explained the importance of being tactful, respectful and PC. I also encouraged her to be bold, firm and brave.
In this time there is no room to be silent. So whatever tone you choose to use, make sure your message is clear. Humanity is counting on us girls!!
If you take nothing else from this letter and post, etch these words by Ms. Sand into your heart…
“You can bind my body, tie my hands, govern my actions: you are the strongest, and society adds to your power; but with my will, sir, you can do nothing.” – George Sand (1804-1876)
So... Current and future Lady Leaders, how do you make yourself heard when you don't want to come off aggressive?
Leave it in the comments below or follow me on my IG or Facebook and tell me about it!!