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

Victoria Monét has worked behind the scenes as a songwriter penning hits for Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, Brandy, and more, and now it's time for her to stand in the spotlight. The "Coastin'" singer has dropped multiple projects over the last few years to showcase her vocal talent and so far she has been receiving praise for her sultry and jazzy sound. Her most recent project, the 2020 EP Jaguar stayed in the mode of jazz while also infusing sounds that are reminiscent of the '70s.

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

It's always good when you can learn something and laugh at the same time, and these Black women on TikTok make sure you're doing both week after week. From teaching us how to best navigate the job search to giving tips specific to advancement in certain industries, these videos are all about empowering and inspiring you to advance in your career. Check out a few of the top TikTok users for this week's picks to enjoy during your lunch break and allow to live rent-free in your head:

Keep reading... Show less

After previously saying that she was in the process of adopting children, Tiffany Haddish is putting motherhood on "pause." The beloved comedian grew up in the foster care system and originally wanted to be a foster mom, but with advice from her lawyers, she decided that adoption would be best. However, it looks like we won't see her with a child anytime soon.

Keep reading... Show less

It was actually pretty close to this time last year when I penned the piece "How To Get Through The Holidays If You Don't Observe Them". Unlike some of the other articles that I write for the site, I pulled that one from very personal experience. Being that my personality is very wired to "be good" on something once I know its origin, holidays are something that I tend to take a pass on; this includes Thanksgiving (some insightful reads on its origin are found here, here and here). Still, this doesn't mean I'm not aware of the fact that many people use this time of year to reflect on their blessings and to say "thanks" for all the good that has come their way. Since I like to write on relationships a lot, I thought to myself, "Why not come up with ways for people to show gratitude to their significant other?"

Keep reading... Show less

Gabrielle Union is not here for the label stepparent. While she became a stepparent after marrying Dwyane Wade in 2014, that doesn't mean that she wants to be defined by it. The actress spoke about the dislike of that term during her appearance on Glennon Doyle's "We Can Do Hard Things" podcast.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

'David Makes Man' Star Arlen Escarpeta Believes Love And Accountability Go Hand In Hand

"While we are quick to judge others, we really have to look at ourselves and call out some of the things that we do."

Latest Posts