Quantcast

Speaking Up At Work As A Black Woman

A common assumption and misconception follow us into the workplace every day. Here's how to rise above it.

Workin' Girl

You've heard about this stereotype before. Black women are always "angry", and we come across as unapproachable. We're the ones who are never happy; we always appear to have a bad attitude or an axe to grind. Particularly if we show any emotions or react to situations, we are seen as more aggressive and hostile than our non-Black counterparts, and our demeanor is "intimidating". This perception causes our behavior and actions to be judged differently than our peers, i.e. Serena Williams showing emotion at the 2018 US Open, and being docked a game and subsequently fined, whereas other (non-Black women) players at the highest levels of tennis do not receive such harsh penalties after exhibiting similar behavior.

These assumptions or misconceptions about Black women follow us into the workplace and can hinder us from having our voices heard, limit our opportunities, and prevent us from being our authentic selves at work every day.

But what can we actually do about it?

1.Know that if you are angry, that’s perfectly OK.

www.readunwritten.com

Should you be facing difficult, frustrating situations or mistreatment, know that you have a right to be angry. Just because others in the workplace may draw conclusions about you, that doesn't mean you should hide your feelings. You are entitled to feel. Furthermore, suppressing your emotions will only cause them to manifest later with an adverse effect on your work product, performance, and interactions with your peers. So go ahead, give yourself the green light to be mad!

2.…But Be Willing to “Articulate Your Anger”.

It's not just enough to be upset. Be open to speaking up in a manner that will help others understand the specific reasons for your irritation or rage. You aren't just angry for the sake of it. Highlighting the root causes not only builds immediate awareness, but it can also drive a broader discussion about the problems you have faced and if there are solutions that can eliminate these concerns for not just you, but other Black women coming behind you.

3.Do Your Due Diligence.

media.giphy.com

Are there other Black women in your organization? Seek them out to gain some insight into the experiences they have had in facing these stereotypes and the methods they have used to navigate such sensitive situations with management and coworkers. Not all organizations are the same, and therefore learning the specific nuances of your environment provides you a better chance of being successful in getting the right attention on the problems you raise as well as the adequate support you need. "It's not just what you say. It's HOW you say it and WHO you say it to."

4.Make the Effort. 

Before you drag me, hear me out. While you can't control the beliefs or perceptions of others or force them to change, you can control your own actions. And if we are being completely honest, for many of us, once we sense that we are perceived a certain way, we are seemingly less motivated to prove it wrong and are willing to allow others to maintain their inaccurate beliefs. However, if we are committed to driving our own career success, we do have the opportunity to instead show our organizations that we are valuable and positive members of the team.

Don't skip the after-work events with the team, try attending a few. Engage in conversations with colleagues and management and begin building organic relationships. Those relaxed environments allow you to start forming bonds with the team that can then translate to the office.

Also, don't be afraid to offer your expertise. If you have a wealth of knowledge and experience in a particular area, take steps to share it with others on the team.

Develop a solid working relationship with your supervisor. Outside of formal meetings, spend time sharing ideas with them as well as requesting their input and perspective on your work. Given this is the person who is helping to manage your career on your behalf and therefore may be involved in conversations about you (WITHOUT you), helping to shape their perception of you can go a long way in setting the organization's opinion of you.

Making the effort in these areas helps you to build rapport with your workgroup, shows the value that you bring, and can give a glimpse into your personality. When people have a chance to get to know you, they are far less likely to assume the worst or view your initial reactions to situations negatively.

Now will you completely eliminate the "Angry Black Woman" stereotype from your workplace if you follow these steps? No. But you can give yourself a better opportunity to have your voice heard and still thrive even in spite of it.

For more information about Julia Rock, check out Rock Career Development or follow her on Instagram.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

I Was Told I Was Approachable For A Black Girl

Janelle Monae On How Therapy and Love Helped Her Resolve Anger Issues

Stress. Anger. Fear. Make Them Work For You, Not Against You.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Nick Cannon is letting viewers in on a little secret about himself that is common with many people, yet surprising coming from the actor. On his self-titled talk show, the TV host along with a group of other men got vulnerable about their insecurities in the bedroom. Nick kicked it off by revealing his insecurity first.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

When I first heard about Harlem, the new Amazon series about four Black girlfriends in the city, I admit, I wasn't a fan. There, I said it. I'm a child of the golden era of Girlfriends, Living Single, Friends, Moesha, Sex and the City, and The L Word. My friends and I were real-life offspring of these constructs who had a lot in common with the women of those shows. Even after enjoying a season of the similar new Showtime series Run the World, I'd had enough of stories about friends "navigating their way through" their 20s, or 30s, or 40s. I loved these shows, but thought to myself, "Why do we need a Harlem? Can't we tell other stories?"

Keep reading... Show less

As someone who has always considered themselves beautiful at any size, I can't say that I have always loved my body. Sure, there have been moments where I thought I was the sexiest thing walking. But for the most part, all I saw when I looked in the mirror were flaws. My thighs were always too big. Butt full of dimples from cellulite. Boobs always in the way. And my arms too jiggly.

Keep reading... Show less

The NAACP Image Awards have released their nominations for 2022 and some of our favorites have been nominated. From television series like Insecure to films like The Harder They Fall and music artists like Saweetie and Jazmine Sullivan, the annual show, which is known for Black excellence is sure to blow us away this year with the amount of talent nominated in the various categories.

Keep reading... Show less

Jordin Sparks has been married to her husband Dana Isaiah Thomas for five years and they share a 3-year-old son, Dana Isaiah Thomas Jr., together. The singer is no stranger to gushing about her husband and their relationship. The two often share adorable photos of their family on social media and Jordin has spoken about their life together in interviews.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Boris Kodjoe And Nicole Ari Parker Know “When To Bring Work Home” For Their New Film 'Safe Room'

The husband-and-wife dream team have found their sweet spot.

Latest Posts