No More Bossy!

After reading Sheryl’s book, watching her on 60 minutes, Jon Stewart, and TED, and then meeting her in person (I’ve obviously become quite the fan…), I have realized how much I feel she is speaking to me. As someone who is constantly referred to as “bossy” and “dominating” with a negative connotation attached to it, it was nice to hear that I am not alone in feeling this way. I never truly realized how much of my thinking stems as a direct result of socialization. For example I attribute getting good grades to working really hard. I almost never call myself “smart,” and I usually downplay what I get on tests. I can’t even explain why I do this. Is it because I am embarrassed? Is it because I don’t know how to feel proud or admit I’m smart? These thoughts have always been at the back of my mind, though I have rarely discussed them with anyone. Until now.

I think the conversation needs to be had not only at a business level, but at a personal level as well if we want to see results. She inspired me to talk about this with my parents, my friends, and even my boyfriend. The more people that realize that there remains a large divide between the sexes, the more we can slowly eradicate it. By taking this advice to a personal level, we will inadvertently use it in the business world as well.  Hopefully with this continued conversation, in the future women will earn the same as men for equal work—and they won’t be afraid to ask for a raise if they deserve it.

I understand some people may think her points are unrealistic for the majority of the population. However, the elimination of the sex divide needs to occur from the top down—so she is speaking to the right people! As someone who has taken sociology courses and has learned how much this message is only talking to those who are fortunate enough to attend collegiate universities, I realize why she is sometimes viewed controversially. There is really not much fluidity in regards to class lines, but that is a whole different issue that would take a whole other book to address. She is speaking to our generation of highly educated women who have the ability to make a real difference.

I hope she continues to advocate as she does, because I know she really touched a lot of women. I also hope that men will listen as well; we cannot do it without them!

Oh, and one more thing: let’s take bossy out of the dictionary.

–Abigail Sickinger, 2014

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The Importance of First Impressions: A Psychological Perspective

As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A strong handshake, eye contact and appropriate attire can attribute to one’s success in both the professional and personal realm. When Professor Keating spoke to CWIB prior to our spring break vacation she focused on the first impression, namely when meeting a potential employer for the first time. We discussed key factors such as physical appearance, nonverbal expression and emotional perception when preparing for or during an interview.

Keating studies the psychology of leadership among other areas. She discussed how to grab the attention and interest of your interviewer or someone you’re meeting for the first time. She noted how dominance and comfort can be expressed by leaning forward, using your hands and smiling. Humans innately read and interpret body language and posture in order to understand the environment and attitude of the person they’re with. A strong, warm handshake is crucial; not only does looking someone in the eye while shaking hands matter but also ensuring that one’s hands are not clammy or wet. These are negative circumstances and can suggest discomfort, nervousness and insecurity. These nonverbal communication signs all contribute to the perception others form and create.

Outside the direct realm of the interview Keating called attention to the Facial-Feedback Hypothesis and how women are perceived in the workplace. We are expected to smile, to speak with a higher pitch, and to have warm personalities. Women who do not portray these qualities are considered abnormal and therefore cold. Simple things to remember like a friendly nod, leaning forward, making eye contact and speaking at the same speed and tone as your partner can combat signs of discomfort or awkwardness in a first meeting.

One of the more profound topics Keating discussed was laughter and humor as a social bond. Laughter is a common expression of comfort, joy, happiness and friendship and it serves as a common identity to which everyone can relate. As I mentioned earlier both a warm, an inviting smile and infectious laughter are generally expected of women and those who are more introverted may find they experience the negative outcomes from this perceived “coldness”. Furthermore people respond to laughter regardless of age, sex and status. Laughter can simply create positive vibes which are always helpful in new environments.

Keating concluded her discussion by reminding the women of CWIB that a strong introduction and a little self-deception of one’s emotions can be helpful in an interview. Feigning confidence is not always a good thing, however it can be a crucial aspect of the job-search as well as navigating a new environment.