This article (column?) just came up in my twitter feed and I feel like I need to link to it here so I don't forget about it in the future. I am constantly worried about speaking up at work, sounding and feeling more confident, and being assertive. I'm in a job now where I really don't know what the hell I'm doing and it's incredibly important for me to ask questions and speak up if I plan on learning anything and getting better, but it is something that I have always struggled with. It usually takes me a while to feel confident in what I'm doing, I feel the need to know a subject inside and out, be able to anticipate any questions or possible conflicts, before speaking about it. The problem with that is I have to learn about it completely on my own and in silence. Uh, not very efficient or reliable.
The part I recently discovered about myself that was mentioned in the article was that we learn this behavior from how we see it modeled in our lives from others. I learned a lot growing up about how women should sound and act, and not a lot of it was really helpful for actually becoming better at my job. Some of it was (be kind, try not to cause unnecessary issues that waste time, write thank-you notes), but some of it, that I'm realizing more of lately, was not. Like being quiet means you are smarter and not making a fool of yourself, being loud means you're trying to make up for something else lacking in your life, and you should know everything about everything before even thinking about bringing it up with someone else. See? Not helpful and not true. If I want to get better at my job, and as a human, I need to speak up and not worry so much with what other people are going to think about it.
I'm not trying to totally shit on all the examples I had growing up because I have some pretty powerful and better examples now that I'm surrounded with professionally and personally. Now I just have to start absorbing these examples and start acting on them, speaking up, and learn faster. Life is short, I don't have time to sit back and wait for all the answers to come to me while I'm sitting quietly being nice.