You know how it is, you’re at Costa getting your much needed coffee fix surrounded by what I like to call the Office Worker Elite. They’re the sort of people who are dressed to impress. Their wardrobe consists of suit dresses from Next that fit them like a glove and they don’t have an ounce of anxiety showing on their faces. They’re wearing the classic pointy toe heels that make my feet cry out in pain at the sheer mention of them (calm down feet, its OK)
I rock up to Costa in my over worn flat brown loafers, sweaty face from the weather and I’m always the one rummaging through my bag trying to find my Costa card. I am not the image of calm and collected.
I often look at these people and I think I might be judging them too harshly. Just because they look calm and collected, doesn’t mean they are. I wonder if they are going to work with the same worries and anxieties that I do, and the answer is probably yes.
I’ve worn those outfits before, not everyday, but to client meetings and important events. I’ve got my trusty Next grey suit dress that, unknown to the clients, I’ve worn to every meeting, just not with the same clients. Oh the horror.
It gives me a feeling of “this is my battle armour”. If I give the image that I am a cool and accomplished professional, then I am halfway to making people believe that I am one. Note, that you don’t see the Bridget Jones pants I have to wear to keep my wobbly bits together. As fantastic as it is, I look forward to ripping this off me the minute I get home.
But as I wore my battle armour, I noticed it did nothing in convincing the client that I am up to the task. I had to prove myself in other ways and stand out from the crowd.
In meetings I like to speak up and cut through the office jargon jibber jabber that so many people use. Some people can spend hours talking without saying anything meaningful. I am quite blunt, and whilst I might not say a lot, I’m getting to the point of sorting out the problem at hand. I always like to offer assistance in anyway and give the client a firm expectation of what I can and can’t do for them. I don’t make promises I can’t keep.
So now I’m in the position that my work speaks for itself. My tasks and accomplishments are enough to convince the client that I am the woman for the job. I also like to think that my appearance as a worker bee instead of a bog standard corporate grey shell make the client believe I have done this before and I can do it again.
I take notes in my Cath Kidston doggie notepad using my floral pink pen and the client does not care less if this looks professional or not. I think they just care that I am taking notes at all, and the right notes at that.
Office Cliques are another thing to consider. I agree that socialising is a fantastic tool for networking and building solid work relationships. But do I want to go to the local pub on a Thursday for a piss up and drag my sorry ass to work the next day? No, I do not.
I don’t like cliques and never have. I’ve been the same since school I think. Instead of being with the it crowd, I preferred to just be amongst my true friends. It was so tempting to join the cool gang though. I would be hailed as the girl to be around, but for what reason? Oh, I’m friends with (insert name here) and she’s cool, therefore I am too. Yeah, but are you funny? Are you fun to be around? Nope, I’m just friends with the current crowd favourite and I have nothing else to back up my claim to coolness.
I don’t want to be labelled as un-friendly, but I don’t want to feel pressurised into going along to every social event and being called “a ledge” every time something mildly funny happens. I also don’t want this to jeopardise my chances of career advancement, so how is best to play this? Should I give in to the peer pressure or carry on as I have been? Is it best to let my work speak for itself or take the somewhat easy route and socialise with the people “that matter”?
So the next time I see a woman oozing self confidence as she waits for her skinny latte to go, I won’t be so quick to judge. She is, most likely, going to work with the same thoughts as me – “how am I going to fit in today?”