Just a thought

TABLE MANNERS: 7 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT FOR WOMEN “SITTING AT THE TABLE” (Part 2)

Welcome back! Ok, if you’ve not read part one, you may not  understand what we’re doing here so click here to read it and then come back to continue.

If you’ve done that, we’re good to go!

 

#Rule 4- BE A PART OF THE CONVERSATION.

Please don’t decorate the table. You’re not an accessory, ornament or a statistical representation. You’re not at the table to say “yay” or “nay” when situation demands. You’re not the designated silent listener to every conversation. You are at the table to influence and make decisions, do that! Contribute to the conversation. In fact, start some conversations. Share informed opinions. Agree. Disagree. Have an opinion and don’t wait to be asked to share it. Volunteer to lead projects. Query resolves. Ask questions if you’re not clear. Repeat yourself if you feel you are not heard. Don’t be a passive leader. Don’t be a toothless bulldog. Don’t be a woman with a seat but no heat. Legitimize your stake at the table by being active in the decision making process. Yes, you can be diplomatic but know when diplomacy is an absolutely wrong strategy.

In other words- Be actively involved in the decision making process.

 

#Rule 5- DON’T APOLOGIZE.

Oh, I’m not saying be rude, I’m just saying don’t apologize for everything. It’s important to be polite but the expression “I’m sorry” is not an intelligent way to start a sentence if you have not done anything wrong. I have discovered that many women say “I am sorry” when it’s absolutely unnecessary and men rarely use that expression even when they should. There have been times I’ve had to ask few ladies what exactly they were sorry for and usually, they were simply being sorry in advance for sharing their opinion. Ridiculous!

Again, “I’m sorry” is not an intelligent way to start a sentence especially if you are disagreeing with an opinion. Are you really sorry? What are you sorry for? Should you be sorry? Don’t be a “sorry woman” and importantly, you cannot be a “sorry leader”. Saying you are sorry before you even say something to be sorry for shows lack of confidence in whatever you are going to say. It also shows you are expecting people to take offence in whatever you say. It can be a tool to silence you. I used to be “sorry” for too many things but now I find it preposterous, cowardly and irritating. Only apologize when it is absolutely necessary. Be bold to hire and fire. Be bold to critic and receive criticism. Be bold to take leadership decisions without getting too personal with it. Don’t be a “sorry machine”. Please, only say and do things that you won’t have to be genuinely sorry for and stop apologizing upandan, biko!

In other words- Don’t be a “sorry machine”.

 

#Rule 6- CREATE MORE SEATS AT THE TABLE.

See your leadership as a responsibility that must be handled with great competence because the effect goes beyond you. It may not sound fair, but you’re not there just for you. You’re there for all of us- women. It’s a lot of responsibility to dump on you but it is the truth. In the world we live in, if a man messes up in leadership he is treated as an individual and his sins end with him. But if a woman messes up in leadership, the entire womanrace has to suffer  the consequences of alienation from that role and stigmatization. Ask around and check history. It’s a fact with exemption to cases where the leadership role is gendered feminine. So please, handle this open door with all sense of responsibly knowing that by showing great competence, you will create more seats at the table. Your results will determine the opportunities for women coming after you.

In addition to that, please support other women at the table and consciously create more seats for upcoming ones using your influence. There’s always a sister you can recommend for a promotion. There’s another you can mentor into leadership. Be that woman that other women can count on for support not the one who competes with them over shadows.

In other words- We are rooting for and counting on you for all of us.

 

#Rule 7- AIM FOR THE “BIG CHAIR”.

Girl, this can’t be it! Yes, you are sitting at the table but who says you cannot sit in the big chair at the head of the table? I’m not saying you should overthrow leadership o. I’m simply goading you to fix your eyes on bigger things my darling. You can do more so please don’t settle. Aim for the next level. Aim for apex leadership because you can. In fact, you can create your own table, design your own big chair and assign seats to whoever you feel is competent to be on your team. Don’t scale down your dreams, make them bigger. Big enough to accommodate you and many more dreamers like you. It’s ok to have big dreams. It’s ok to want more.

In other words- Don’t settle.

 

It’s a long read but I’m sure it’s worth it. I won’t even pretend that this is an exhaustive list. If I wrote everything there is to say, I’d be writing a book which I’m not ready to write. So, feel free to engage me in the comment section. Give more rules or general feedback. If you ask, maybe I’ll write table manners for men too. Don’t forget to subscribe and share.

 

Stretch & Thrive!

Deborah

2 Comments

    • Deborah Adeojo

      It’s amazing how many of us are “Sorry Machines”. I have to deliberately say ” I’m not sorry” any time I say “I’m sorry” unnecessarily. It still happened this evening! I know I’ll break this pattern someday soon. Thank you Joy

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