Being Confident at Work vs. Being Arrogant

confidence vs. arrogance What’s the difference between being confident and being arrogant? How can you tell if you’ve crossed that line at work? Reader A wonders…

I’ve got a sensitive subject that I haven’t seen discussed about discipline at work. I was recently hired at a law office where I’ve summered the last two summers doing litigation.

At work I was called into the hiring managers office and told the following. Hiring Manager is one of my biggest supporters. He thinks my career can take me far beyond where most people go in their careers into the top division. However, a couple of my evaluations from supervisors from the summer thought I sometimes acted arrogant. He said he didn’t think I was arrogant but that some things I said at my interview danced the line between confident and arrogant and raised red flags. He said he only brought it up because he didn’t want to not say something in case it became an issue in the future.

Any insight on responding beyond thanking him for telling me and thanking him for supporting me?

Interesting question, reader A. We’ve talked about how to be professional without looking like you think you’re in charge, as well as stressed the importance of being humble and grateful when you’re networking with older people — but we haven’t talked about what to do when you’re told you’re arrogant. (On the flip side, we’ve talked about how to take a compliment, as well as a lot about a lack of confidence; we had a discussion about the book The Confidence Code and we’ve shared posts on facing fear and low self-esteem, imposter syndrome, and doing work you feel unprepared for.) I have a few thoughts, but I’m curious what readers will say.

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Left Behind By a Male Colleague While Wearing Heels

left behind at train stationIf you’re running for the train in high heels and find yourself getting left behind by a male colleague (or a woman, for that matter) as you struggle to keep the pace, is that coworker simply being rude? What should you do next time?

Reader L wonders:

I am from Germany and I love your Blog. Some topics are differently handled here but still most of the tips and advice can be applied here as well. I have experienced some male behaviour which I just find to be rude but I wanted to know if other women have experienced it as well and how they dealt with it. I was travelling with my former boss and and we went to meetings with potential partners etc. I usually wore heels. After the meeting we really had to hurry to catch a train. Meaning he walked extremely fast and did not look after me where I was. I really had trouble keeping up with him. The other time I was prepared and wore flats but then we actually had to run to get to the train. A couple of weeks ago I was travelling with a sort of male CEO and the train was a bit late, but we still had more than enough time to get to our appointment. I was also pacing, almost running, just seeing that he did not bump into others.

I’ve seen situations like this unfold — and I definitely have Opinions. I’m curious to hear what the readers say. To recap, we’ve talked about comfortable heels, the best commuting shoeshow to walk quietly in heels, how to look professional in flats, and traveling with coworkers — but I haven’t stated my pretty stark opinion on heel height for work in a while…. so here goes:

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Joining the Boys’ Club When You’re a Woman

Boys' club at work | CorporetteShould you join the office boys’ club if you’ll be the only woman? What if your male coworkers meet and talk shop outside of work while taking part in an activity — such as tennis or golf — that you don’t even like? Reader K, who works outside of the U.S., wonders:

I have a question regarding the ‘old boy’s club’ at work; my workplace is fairly conservative, with only 15% of the workforce women (although the number is increasing in the younger generation), but quite politically correct and thus nothing seriously sexist or misogynist. My male boss, in his mid-50s, has been fantastic to work with, and as a recruit (from a different company, relocating quite a distance), I’ve been happy with my position and also see potential in the company itself. BUT, after three years, I see that there is a ‘boy’s club’, where they get together and play tennis, have a beer, and get things done. My boss has even suggested that I join the tennis club (playing once a week or so) — but I’ll be the only female and really don’t like tennis. What would you do?

Tough question, K. We’ve talked about networking with older men, dealing with sexist coworkers, and whether or not to pick up the tab at lunch with a group of male partners, but not specifically about this topic. I’d ask myself a few questions first:

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How to Tell a Flirtatious Boss to Stop Hitting on You

Flirtatious bossWhat should you do when a flirtatious colleague — one who’s kind of your boss — is hitting on you at work? Reader J wonders…

I am a (female) BigLaw associate, who has become the focus of flirtatious attention from a (male) partner, who (1) works in another, but near-ish office, (2) is on the Executive Committee, and (3) has quite a reputation for hitting on firm employees (attorneys and non-attorneys alike). My friends/colleagues’ advice has generally boiled down to: Don’t outright reject him, stroke his ego, etc., but continue to deflect invitations for dinner and drinks. A few have suggested telling him I am not comfortable dating someone at work (which is true). What is your and the readers’ advice re (1) how to handle his attentions and (2) whether I should report him to someone in the firm? FWIW, I have been aware of his reputation of flirting with other attorneys, but have learned of his recent shift to a staffer.

Yeouch. We’ve talked before about handling a flirting client, dealing with unwanted attention from older men while networking, and even about dating at the office — but not this particular situation. In my legal-eagle days, I would have considered any partner (even if he was in another office or another group) to be my “boss,” and someone who sits on the Executive Committee — presumably with firing powers — to especially be my boss. So I can see why Reader J is concerned, and I’m curious to hear what the readers say. (Pictured: Hey so I was wondering if maybe you might want to…, originally uploaded to Flickr by nate bolt.)

A few thoughts:

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Guest Post: Successfully Managing Men at Work

Successfully Managing Men | CorporetteShould you manage men differently than women? We’ve talked about becoming a boss, delegating work, motivating a lazy secretary, and whether you should be friends with staffers — but not this particular topic. I’m honored to welcome Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl to the blog — a new mama herself (congrats!), Anna is a leadership coach for ambitious women, and the author of the new book,  The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men. Welcome, Anna! – Kat. (Pictured: World’s Best Boss, originally uploaded to Flickr by Kumar Appaiah.)

As an overachieving chick, you are bound to have the challenge of managing men at work. You might be worried about coming across as too strong, aggressive, or bitchy. You might not be confident in yourself because you don’t really understand men. You might be uncomfortable around the men you work with. I know I was.

For eight years I worked in a male-dominated work environment and I quickly found out that understanding men was the key to getting promoted. Once I learned how to manage both genders successfully, I finally started getting ahead.

Here are the keys I found to successfully manage men at work:

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Guest Post: Women Breadwinners Can Level the Financial Playing Field

Women as Breadwinners | CorporetteWomen breadwinners is a topic we’ve touched on before: we answered a reader question about dating a guy who makes significantly less money, and a few breadwinning readers had some interesting comments on our recent Tales from the Wallet about managing your money after you get married. I was curious (and excited) to hear about an entire new book examining how relationship dynamics change when the woman is the breadwinner, and reached out to the author.  Please welcome Farnoosh Torabi, sharing an adapted excerpt from her book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women.  Kat

Evidently, if you make more than your man, you’re more likely to be the one in control of the money. My nationwide survey co-conducted with clinical psychologist Brad Klontz revealed that women who bring home the bigger paycheck are significantly more likely to be the primary decision makers on money matters and take charge of things like paying bills, budgeting, saving, and planning for retirement.

But while such an arrangement has its advantages, it could also be asking for trouble. It calls for a new rule.

A sense of equity between two committed people is important, even if there’s an income disparity. But to keep a man’s dignity and sense of engagement, he needs to feel like he plays an important role in the relationship and that he’s not completely isolated from the financial decisions. And for a woman to keep her sanity and sex drive alive, she shouldn’t have to do the equivalent of a CFO’s job after she’s gotten home from her 9 to 5 (or 7 to 11).

Consider this scenario: When Kyle lost his job in IT, his social worker wife Lynne suddenly became the breadwinner for their family of six. The Houston couple’s income shrank by 50 percent, but their bills continued to pour in. The stress was mounting, so Lynne took it upon herself to manage all of the family’s finances (i.e., paying bills, balancing the checkbook, managing the savings account), while Kyle buried himself in his job search. It felt like she was helping out — why saddle Kyle with more work when he could be polishing his resume and practicing his interview skills? But in taking over the finances, Lynne cut Kyle out of the decision-making process. Yes, she took care of the bills, bought the groceries, but she also did not appreciate when her husband used their discretionary money to buy, say, a new pair of golf shoes. And thus a vicious cycle was born: Kyle, grasping for some sense of autonomy and dignity, started making (and hiding) personal purchases outside of the budget. Lynne then clamped down tighter. Both started to lose respect for the other.

The challenge: How can men and women help each other not just feel, but be accountable for their finances when she makes more? From a practical standpoint, who pays for the mortgage, vacations, and everyday living expenses? From an emotional standpoint, how do you make him feel like a player and that his contributions — financial or otherwise — matter? What steps can a couple take to reach financial fairness? Although he may not make as much, how can he feel as involved with and connected to their shared financial life as she is? The answer lies in the following When She Makes More rule: Level the Financial Playing Field. In every relationship the solutions are different and no one way is necessarily right or wrong, as long as both of you are on the same page and agree to these simple protocols:

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