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5 Ways To Get Taken More Seriously At Work

Workin' Girl

Being a woman in any industry is a challenge, but when you add being a Black woman, it feels like we're at the bottom of the totem pole sometimes; especially if you're one of the youngest people in the office.


My work environment went from a very urban culture to a very traditional one, where I found myself to be the minority. It didn't take me long to realize that I had to up my game for my peers to take me seriously. But once you recognize that you have to make moves for your coworkers to see you as a deserving colleague, you already have the tough part out of the way.

Here are a few of the approaches I took:

1.Be Early

When I first started at this new job, it wasn't unusual to see people strolling in 5, 10, and even 15 minutes late. So of course, when I saw that, I thought it was okay to finish my face or hair, even if that meant being a few minutes late.

I quickly realized that those rules didn't necessarily apply to me because I got the side eye. I was almost offended when they seemed surprised that I was on time, and even early. The petty part of me didn't want to give them the satisfaction of saying I did anything wrong, but God is still working on me.

When you show up early, as difficult as it might be, it proves that you not only wanted the job, but that you're dedicated to it and deserve to be there just like everyone else.

2.Dress The Part

I pretty much live in t-shirts and jeans, so I'm all for a casual work environment. This is why I was so happy to know that everyone dressed casually at my job, and some people didn't even iron their clothes.

While I was tempted to toe the line and rock my distressed jeans, especially on Fridays when hardly anyone was there, I realized that there was no way I would be taken seriously if I dressed like I was going to the mall. If you work in a casual environment, don't be afraid of jeans, just make sure they're appropriate and think about pairing them with a blazer and heels.

On the other hand, you don't always have to dress casually just because you can. In fact, not doing so could help you stand out in an even better way. Either way, go above and beyond and dress for what you want, not for where you are currently. If your boss or the VP is rocking suits every day, you might want to think about doing the same.

3.Get To Know Your Coworkers

Small talk with coworkers can help build working relationships. Try asking about their kids and family life, or even how their day is going. Getting to know the people you work with allows them get to know you, and ultimately take you more seriously. Something about realizing that your coworkers have a life outside of the building is ike when you're little and you see your teacher outside of school.

If you can, invite some of them to lunch or to hang out after work. When you get back into the office, you might notice how the demeanor and interactions completely change for the better.

4.Stand Up For Yourself

There were so many times when my colleagues didn't think I knew what I was doing or what I was talking about. This was even the case when it came to tasks that I specifically was hired to do, and it made me wonder why they brought me on board to begin with.

If you also have moments like that at work, it's imperative that you don't hull over and just let it pass by. You have to prove that you're knowledgeable about what you're doing, even if there are those who question why you're there in the first place. Not standing up for yourself indicates that they're right about you and your alleged lack of skills.

For someone like me who is typically soft spoken, this is a tough lesson to learn. But it's also a very necessary one. Whether it's your first job out of college, your first job in a new career, or one that you've been doing for years, there's a reason that they chose you. You just can't be afraid to keep proving it and showing it (in a respectful way of course).

5.Keep It Professional

If you have a lot of friends at work, it's really important to make sure that you're still taken seriously. That's a really tough balance to achieve, but once you do, it's actually a pretty great work experience. If you don't have a lot of friends at work, you might be taken seriously but you might not be respected. Both of these extremes can be resolved with how you conduct yourself.

It's really all about setting boundaries and letting your colleagues know, whether they're friends, frenemies, or just associates, that you take your work seriously. There are some amazing work environments that are really fun and give you permission to let loose. Even in those situations, you just have to remember to draw the line somewhere.

Having fun at work definitely means you love what you do, but at the end of the day, make it understood that you want to be taken seriously.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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