I grew up believing that names would never hurt you, until I entered the world of business.
Names are everything in the world of business. Decisions involving jobs, promotions, demotions, salaries, perks, etc. are made based on names. So what names are people calling you?
Are you called a people-person or a “B” on wheels, a friend or backstabber, a pushover or ultra powerful, innovative or stuck in your ways, frumpy or professional? If you don’t know, you could be in for a rude awakening.
Years ago I learned that I had been named “too nice”. I was appalled as I always saw my “niceness” (strong interpersonal skills is what I called it) as an asset that set me apart from others. Little did I know, this name would hurt my career.
Although I was “well- liked, “talented and smart”, based on a “name”, higher-ups were afraid to put me in situations where they thought I may get eaten alive. Therefore, I was not selected for specific promotional opportunities.
No matter how talented you are, it is the names that determine how far you will go.
Why is it important for women to know what names we’re called?
Names seem to stick to us like glue in the workplace and especially if you are a leader. Maybe it’s because we are in the minority in leadership and with fewer numbers, our mistakes or mishaps are never forgotten. Our professional reputations are extremely fragile and we have to handle them with care.
So, how do you find out what names you are called? Simple…You ask.
One day, that ‘s exactly what I did. During a routine supervision meeting with my boss at the time, instead of the usually babble, I asked her frankly why I had hit a career road block. She told me straight; everyone liked me, but I was “too nice” for certain positions that may require you to be tough.
Just like that I had the answer. All the time, I thought it was because I didn’t have the right experience, or credentials. I never thought it had to do with being called “too nice”.
How I became Ms. “Too Nice”?
To my surprise, my name came from a single incident, when a “B” on wheels (that was her name) challenged me during a presentation. I was so caught off -guard by her rude approach, that I allowed myself to get off -track .
After the meeting, I forgave myself for the stumble and thought that my track record would protect me. That’s where I went wrong.
Big Lesson #1 Reputations are fragile
You can spend years building a strong reputation and it can be shattered by one incident. You and your actions are under constant scrutiny. People are making judgments about you with every encounter and forming new opinions everyday.
People talk and spread names throughout organizations. Therefore, you have to realize that it’s “show time” everyday and you must come with your “A” game.
Now, everyone makes mistakes. However, never let one go without putting forth effort to recover your reputation. If I had not been so self-absorbed after my mishap, I would have realized that I was being judged on how I handled the situation. I did not come prepared for the unexpected.
Big Lesson #2 Be open to feedback and accept what you hear.
It is not easy to hear negative things about yourself. But if you never hear the bad things, you can’t fix them. So when you ask for feedback, stress that you want honest feedback. And then, take it like a woman. Although appalled, knowing “my name”, empowered me to save my reputation. And that’s what I did.
My then boss, did me a big favor. She gave me good, honest , feedback that helped propel me forward. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your boss, consider peers, mentors and friends as information sources. Sometimes your saboteurs can be a great wealth of information. Most will find joy in telling you what names you have.
Every women needs to know her “names” to get a head in business. So, do you know yours? Take our poll and tell us your experience.
Special Note: Although many of you send me emails, please share information, comments and experience here so others can learn as well. We fail each other by not taking the time to share, support and engage with other women. Please contribute and let’s grow together. Thanks
© Jocelyn Giangrande and SASHE,LLC, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jocelyn Giangrande and SASHE,LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.