Traditionally, black women are seen as strong and bold, oftentimes taking life's hits to the chin, sucking "it" up---"it" meaning feelings, concerns, and frustrations---or shrugging off pain and discomfort. We all know this to be a stereotype that is true for some, but it is far from true for others.
If I could raise my hand in agreement with the latter and type at the same time I would. I'm an empath, wear my emotions on both sleeves, and am the first to let you know how I feel. In the past, I've been told I'm "too sensitive" if I voiced concern about a very valid issue or if I didn't let something "slide" that was demeaning, demoralizing or just plain disrespectful.
In the workplace, this takes on a whole different meaning and can have very detrimental effects on a woman's career, especially since women who speak up can be called far worse words than "sensitive." If you are authoritative or an assertive leader, you're either a bitch, uncooperative, or "hard to work with," and this is a problem that is super-magnified for women of color who are often already code-switching just to keep their jobs.
Image by Shutterstock
Well ladies, the next time you are accused of being "too sensitive" or "in your feelings" at work, there's a recent study that gives you a bit of redemptive recourse. (At the very least, it should put a smile on your face after that 10th annoying encounter with an insecure, insensitive, or inappropriate boss or coworker.) I was delightfully surprised to read that men are actually "more sensitive" at work than women. The study, conducted by Totaljobs.com, a U.K.-based hiring platform, states:
- Men were 1.6x more emotional than women about being criticized
- Men were 2.4x more emotional than women because their "ideas weren't heard"
- Men were 2.5x more emotional than women about "having a fall out"
- Women were 25% more emotional than men about "stress/frustration"
The study also found that men were "more emotionally invested" in workplace projects than women and that they are three times more likely to get "emotional" because a project "went over budget, missed a deadline, or got canceled." (Some of my sistas read this and said, "Well I didn't need a study to tell me that. I see that every week!" Amen, sis. Amen.) The researchers of the study also found that women "experience more stress at work," are feeling "sadder", and often mask those feelings.
They offer the following tips for dealing with emotions at work. Use them for yourself or pass the memo on to the men in your life and workplace:
Acknowledge the Feelings
"Let yourself feel the emotion for a while. Let the emotion out. Cry if you need to. Recognize what your sadness is telling you. Write it down."
Do Something Active
"Go outside if possible. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and getting inside your own head on the treadmill can help work through the messages that your sadness is sending you."
Get Support From Someone You Trust
"Chatting it through often helps to organize thoughts and helps to order responses to feeling sad."
If you're the one giving the support...
Researchers recommend the following:
- No matter what the emotion is, acknowledge it.
- Don't jump to give advice.
- Focus on your role as an advocate, but you're not the problem-solver.
- Don't downplay their response.
- Stay away from saying, "Cheer up" or "It will be alright."
- Keep things confidential as to avoid loss of trust or instigation of drama.
- Make listening a priority.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Featured image by Shutterstock