There are many women out there just like me. Maybe loud, for sure smart, perhaps even tall, certainly not shrinking violets. We make people uncomfortable as hell.
For women of confidence like us, the key to knowing how to move through career and relationships is simple. You must have an exact understanding of your own scariness factor. Your ability to establish communications with others is directly related to your ability to gauge how you make that person feel.
Although it can be taxing on your patience, it is always good to start off a little softer with people who may get bent out of shape in the face of a huge personality and lots of words. That is if you care. If you don’t then just barrel on and leave them sputtering in your wake. It is less work to disregard them early since they aren’t going to end up being able to deal with you anyway. Invest in people who appreciate the sideshow that is the loud girl.
If you end up in an interaction where you do have to care, then it is time to “Check your Privilege”. Are you coming from a position of perceived power? People use very fast judgement indicators about who you are. Your age, status, clothing, car, body language, vocabulary and if you are female, your body. This is particularly important in business environments but also true in personal interactions. You have to practice wielding it or dialing it back. It shouldn’t be accidental.
Never let it be a mystery as to why somebody doesn’t like you. It is also ok not to be liked. (Gasp!). People who are universally liked don’t tend to have opinions that bother anybody. That is a safe place to be for sure. Making no waves is how you win friends, it is not how to influence people.
Men are admired for their strength of conviction. Women struggle with it, and are generally the most vicious guardians of making nice with each other. Screw nice. Scary has more interesting stories. Being direct without injuring is a very good skill to learn, and takes practice. Reaching out to people’s hearts is a way of attaching them to you. That tool isn’t to be used lightly, genuine interactions are the hallmark of a strong person, don’t ever compromise on that.
I often write to my younger self, and this is one of those issues. Many years of self-flagellation came from wondering why I couldn’t make progress with certain people, and that one should be able to have everybody like you. Getting real with the fact that there are people out there who can’t deal with it, and that it is not within your power to change how they feel can be so freeing. Drop the ideal and focus on your own talents skills and knowledge. Because if you are loud and not well informed you are just another asshole. If you are going to be out there, be prepared to bring it. The people who are drawn to you from that moment on will be the ones that are worth it.
(This post originally ran on Magnolia Ripkin Advice Blog)