This is an article dedicated to the International Women’s Day 2020
Dear womankind – How many of you have been described as “difficult”, when you are simply being assertive at work? Phrases similar to the word “difficult” will include “aggressive”, “sounding angry”, or “just a bit too much”.
“Difficult” is a tricky word because it is a compliment and a slap in the face at the same time. It is often used when the critic almost agreed with what you said, but just wished that you were a little nicer or more “ladylike” on the delivery.
The worst part is that the critic would almost never tell you directly but will ensure you would get the message in due course.
We have all been there, and we all hate it. The expectation for a woman to be always demure and agreeable must stop.
It is time to be an “upstander” for our fellow women. To this end, may I suggest the following:
Next time when you hear a critic saying a woman you know is “difficult” and if you think that woman does not deserve such comment, tell the person you respectfully disagree and ask the critic their reasons behind that comment.
If the critic is well-meaning, an explanation will be provided. Disagreements happen all the time, and it’s good to have an open conversation about it.
But if the “difficult” comment simply reflects a desire to control that woman’s behavior, the critic will get the message from your response.
There is nothing wrong to be ambitious, to be assertive, and to challenge the status-quo.
Being sympathetic and collaborative is part of our nature, but not our whole nature. We don’t have to be warriors at all time, but when you see something is not right – speak up and try to make it right. That’s how we can achieve an equal world.