If every woman got a nickel for every time a man demeaned one of us at work, I firmly believe we'd close the pay gap (and maybe even open up a new one going the other way). From telling us to "smile" and talking over our ideas to sexual harassment and in extreme cases assault, women can go through a lot at work.
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So when I came across this TikTok from Katie Tucci (@kaytuc) explaining her strategies for showing men that she means Business with a capital B, I was very much here for it. Katie is 30 years old, based in Washington, DC, and she told BuzzFeed that she learned these strategies while working as a paralegal and in law school.
In the video, which has been viewed more than 3 million times, she explained that she starts every meeting with a firm handshake and always introduces herself with her first and last name in any professional context. She also strives to keep her speech declarative and direct. "One thing my professors pushed in law school and I think is very invaluable is to stop waffling... You're being paid for your opinion, your intellect, your research, and what you bring to the table. Sounding unsure about what you're bringing to the table is the first way to undermine yourself."
She goes on to give some body language tips that signal that she's not afraid to take up space. "I do not smile in meetings. I always make sure that my chair is raised up as high as it can be. So visually when I'm sitting at a table, I'm about head level and eye level with everyone else, even though I'm naturally pretty short."
Katie also mentions using more casual, male-coded body language, like leaning back or sitting with her legs slightly apart, to demonstrate her power in the room. "That sort of relaxed atmosphere actually translates a little bit to arrogance. And frankly, I've found that it works."
Additionally, she likes to take the lead in meetings to help reinforce her authority. "I always try to be the one initiating whatever we're doing next, whether it's standing up to move and end the meeting, whether it's shaking hands at the door to say goodbye, whether it's moving someone from one space to another. I'm the one who starts doing it to get everyone else to follow me."
Finally, she has advice for what to do when a man persists in calling you a dreaded pet name like "honey" or "sweetheart" (barf). "There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying, 'You know, I really don't think you are interested in engaging in this meeting with me in good faith. So I'm going to have to continue to use my time elsewhere.' This is the most important part. You cannot let them get away with that. Do not accept an apology. Do not normalize it. Do not nod your head and smile. I know it's incredibly uncomfortable. I know it's incredibly terrifying. And honestly this took me years to feel comfortable doing. You stand your ground, you look them in the eye, and you say, 'My name is not sweetheart.'"
"Don't be disappointed in yourself if you can't do this all immediately. It took me a decade to learn most of this stuff. Just don't ever be afraid to make them uncomfortable because they are never afraid to make you uncomfortable."
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