In this "snapshot" selfie-driven society, where the rude "rules," why was there so much negative chatter this week about Lady Gaga bumping into best actor winner Leo DiCaprio at the Golden Globe Awards as she dramatically strode towards the stage to receive her own recognition?
Because women are supposed to be humble!
But, with no acknowledgement, no sheepish glance, no "I'm so sorry" she just kept confidently striding towards the podium. She EARNED this moment, reinvented herself (yet again) in the style of Hollywood glamour queens, complete with the Marilyn Monroe blonde bob and an impossibly corseted hour glass figure. Gaga came to play, she was a Ms. on a mission... no apology needed!
Women would do well to emulate this entertainment Icon. Success is a choice, and winning is a planned event. From the way you show up, to the way you walk and especially to the way you TALK, we all need to stop qualifying and minimizing. I call it killing "Just-a."
"Just a thought." "Just an observation." "Just-a" is weak. It has no impact. Let's abolish "just-a."
Why is it we can't accept the compliment or take credit for the outcome? It starts with permission ("I can claim this"), migrates to ownership ("I'm responsible for this") and escalates to self-promotion ("others should know about this").
So what is getting in our way? Small words with big and negative consequences. Even among millennials the cycle of small continues. We insert them inappropriately to soften bad news, seem less needy, appear less bossy and in the process make ourselves, invisible, optional and forgettable. It even has a new name, it's called "camouflaging" -- ways young women submerge and subvert their assertiveness and exceptionalism in order to fit in and go along. Following the herd.
Talking small starts early, becomes a habit and establishes itself as an adult SOP (standard operating procedure).
A case in point: A female CEO for whom I provide executive coaching had to deliver some bad news before the end of last year. A drug they believed was going to be approved by the FDA was rejected which meant she had to deliver a devastating edict to the company's sales force just before the holidays. In a hastily convened broadcast she announced to over 1,000 employees that "I am sorry to share this with you, but what we're discussing today is kind of urgent, we've had a little bit of a set-back." She then went on to "share" that as a result of this "bit of a setback" that was "kind of urgent" half of them would be losing their jobs and to stay tuned for a call from their district managers -- really? Clearly I had a lot more coaching to do...
She left her audience stunned and resentful, nobody felt any better because she had "softened the blow." In reality, by minimizing the critical importance of what had just happened to the company and was about to happen to them, she undermined her credibility, engendered massive resentment and made a bad situation worse! And she shouldn't be sorry for what wasn't her fault - it was the Food and Drug Administration that made the call.
Break the habit -- do a Gaga and communicate with confidence. Delete the minimizers and qualifiers. No need to insert the pre-amble, make the point. Don't seek forgiveness for what you are about to say, just say it! Instead of "this may seem a little off base, but" -- or "this is just my opinion, but" -- put some "deposits" in the other person's "ego bank." Like "you make a good point." Another tip is to never use "but" -- it is the verbal eraser of life and negates what precedes it.
When talking large, use volume and confidence to be heard. Use words that convey your true meaning and intent. Don't minimize yourself. Kill the "Just-a"s. Be confident like Gaga. She doesn't camouflage herself and she always gets noticed, which makes her memorable. In her smash hit Born This Way Gaga sang, "My mama told me when I was young/we are all born superstars... so hold your head up, girl/and you'll go far." Indeed!