Hell Hath No Fury… How to Piss Off a Woman at Work

October 22, 2019

You seem angry.

Why are you angry?

We just need you to take notes at the meeting. Again.

Yes, we know you’re not the secretary, geez. Not everything is in the job description. Sometimes you just have to do what you’re asked to do. Be a team player.

Well, we can’t ask John to do it because he’s not good at that sort of stuff. Or the other John. They’re busy thinking strategically, being given the floor and getting noticed.

Just take the notes. This one time. And the next time. And the time after that.

You should take this as a compliment! You’re so good at multi-tasking! You never let anything fall through the cracks! Let’s put some more inconsequential stuff on your plate that adds little value to your career but someone has to do it and we don’t want it to be us.

Like Ben’s birthday. Thanks for letting us know it’s Ben’s birthday and we shouldn’t fire him today. Can you pick up a cake for Ben before the meeting where you’ll take the notes?

When it’s time to serve the cake, we’ll all just sit there and wait for someone – you – to serve it.

And then we’ll all leave our plates on the table when the meeting is done because someone will clean up after us.

Thanks. You take such good care of us. You’re our Mother Hen.

Hey, Sarah seems sad today. She’s crying at her desk. Tell her she shouldn’t do that. It makes her seem emotional and incompetent.

Also, talk to her about that shirt she’s wearing. It’s distracting. We can’t stop staring at her chest.  She shouldn’t wear that. You tell her. You’re good at that kind of stuff too.  You’re good at so many things we just have no desire to do!

Yes, we know John is her manager and the other John has known her for years, but they’re too busy tackling strategic projects designed to get them seen and promoted. We count on you to hold this place together while they are out making deals and earning accolades.

You’re wondering when you’ll get a promotion? It’s only been eight years. We’re not sure you’re ready. You need to prove yourself. Step into some leadership roles. Volunteer for this committee, on your own time. Demonstrate what you can do.

Yes, we know you’ve already demonstrated that. We want you to do it again to buy us some time to find some other reason.

Also, we just promoted Jane in marketing six months ago. See? The company is invested in women. You should be happy for Jane. Why don’t women support other women?

You don’t know Jane? Neither do we. But we heard she got promoted. You should find out how she did it. Hold her up as a shining example for all the women here that it’s possible.

If they’re not being advanced, they’re not doing it right.

If you want to get ahead in this organization, you have to advocate for yourself. You can’t wait for someone to notice you. Take a seat at the table.

Just not that seat. That’s John’s seat.

There’s a seat over there. Take that seat. Next to the cake.

Shoot, John spilled his coffee. Can you grab some napkins?

Stop being so disagreeable. Smile and nod more.

You know, you have to learn to be firm. Not that firm. The right amount of firm.

Stand up for yourself. Be direct and clear. Stop using filler words. You need to be assertive but not aggressive.

There’s a right way to show confidence and a wrong way.

No, I can’t explain what that looks like. I know it when I see it.

Like John. The other John. There’s something about that guy I just like.

He’s on the fast track. You should learn from John.

By the way, he said you were rude in how you spoke to him the other day. He said you went to his office  and asked him to not interrupt you the next time you’re presenting in a meeting.

He told me he was just trying to help explain your point because he felt he could say it better.

He was helping you. You should appreciate that.

You need to apologize to John.

Yes, I know that John always interrupts people in meetings. Let’s face it, John is an arrogant f-ck. He knows he’s an arrogant f-ck. He can do that because we’ve always let him get away with it.

I can tell him what an arrogant f-ck he is. Then we go out for a beer afterwards and it’s all good. You can’t. Go fix your relationship with John.

What are you so upset about? You need to calm down. Is it that time of the month? I don’t know what to make of you women. You’re all crazy.

You should smile more. You’re too serious all the time.

Don’t joke around so much. People won’t take you seriously.

Speak up… but not that loudly.

Look, if you want the job, you should apply for it. That’s what I learned in this diversity training I went to last week where I was mostly on my phone setting my fantasy line-up and not really paying attention. I did hear that women don’t apply for jobs unless they know they meet 100% of the qualifications. Because women lack confidence.

It’s a huge problem. You need to be confident. But don’t act all full of yourself, who do you think you are?

So apply for the job even if you don’t meet all the qualifications. But once you do apply we’re going to focus on the one or two qualifications you don’t currently have as reasons to disqualify you from the role.

You need more experience.

You’re overqualified.

There’s got to be a reason you haven’t yet been promoted.

Grow your gravitas. Grow a penis.

Get back to work.

… Hey, can you come right now to join us in the conference room? We just realized the client we’re wooing has women on their team and, um, there are no women in here. We need a woman with us.

But don’t talk. Just nod and smile. And serve the cake.

Valerie Gordon is a long-time storyteller whose feature work has appeared on HBO, CBS News and ESPN. As founder of career and communications strategy firm Commander-in-She, she helps high-achieving women with the skills and tools necessary to advance their careers on their own terms. She blogs about work, life and humor at Commander-in-She.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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