Don't Be An A**hole
You ever work with someone whose mere existence makes you question why the Universe is testing you? Well, I have. Ever since I've started working, since I was 15 years old, I’ve came across that one person at work who got the illest mal de ojo swag. (Mal de ojo means evil eye or bad juju, by the way). During these 9 years of being a working girl I have been successful at dismissing all shade, disarming incredibly frustrating conversations, and have learned to dish the sass right back, in a politically correct manner. The experience of dealing with less than helpful co-workers, the rude and the plain old shady is a thing that we will all experience, but hopefully we can each walk away with some super refined people skills and the ability to diffuse similar situations anywhere we go.
Being well equipped to de-escalate quarrels and peacefully soothe disagreements is a necessary skill for women, especially women of color. We are the mothers, sisters, friends and girlfriends of the young Black and Latino men who have become a target for violence in this country. Women of color, especially black women, are the target of an insidiously violent beast which aims to erase our identity and make us feel less than. The entire world measures beauty and a woman's worth with a scale that excludes black women, it's time that we use our own systems to measure our worth and this starts by having more respect for one another. We can each benefit from using our place of work as a classroom for any future disagreements that we will have to soothe.
While I have a special connection with Black women and Afro Latinas, being that I identify as both - the following advice is for all women, Black and Caucasian, Asian and Native, Latina and Middle Eastern, gay, straight, trans, disabled, young and old, and everyone in between. You are all my sisters, and while we may have incredibly different lives, looks and experiences - I hope you are able to create the safe spaces that you (and I) deserve.
Okay! So boom, you show up for your first day of work and you're super stoked and can't wait to meet the team and are just bursting with excitement and can barely contain it... then you meet her. Her: that one girl whose job seems to be to make YOURS difficult. Your mind says 'girl I will slap you if you don't act right' but your mouth says 'Is there any advice that you have for me?' And you ask her for helpful details and tips that you could use to make yourself that much more valuable to your employer. She doesn't really like this and her mouth says 'I'm not sure what they're training you for' and she points out that your title is higher than hers and uses this as a decoy for her being an unhelpful waste. Her eyes say 'I'm here to sabotage you, brace yourself'. LOL, I'm clearly having flashbacks of a first day of work but lord, this girl really made a lasting impression on me.
So how did I manage to deal with her? With grace and dignity, a dash of salt and a pinch of sass, that's how. It took me a few days of working with homegirl to realize that my presence was a threat to her. Not in the nonsensical, conventional 'oh she wants what I have' way, but from an entirely different view that is actually a bit more valid. I realized that my presence threatened her livelihood because that could mean less hours, less attention and fewer opportunities to shine.
It was never personal, it seldom is. When we enter new places of work we are entering an existing hierarchy and sometimes who we are naturally, threatens the pre-existing work hierarchy. I usually show up and I’m referred to as the 'bubbly one' and can understand how this may be upsetting to more serious (cough*boring*cough) people. I am a vacuum for attention and I have come to understand that not everyone enjoys being around someone like me. Sucks for them! lol
So my solution is simple; continue to be yourself, regardless of who enjoys it and continue to work your hardest and smartest. Our hard work always outshines the shade of those who wish us harm. ALWAYSSS. Treat those around you with respect so that they understand that you demand respect as well. Be gentle with those who seem to be the antagonist in your life, they have their own battles and are usually not worthy of your energy. Sometimes we attract moths, and for that we should be like the light - shining regardless. Remain peaceful during all disagreements and use your better judgement when picking your battles. It's not always best to immediately confront things that anger us, sometimes we need to cool off a bit and think things through. Practice this at work whenever you can and this air of peace will surely follow you wherever you may go.
I am learning this everyday and practice this compassion as much as I can. I'm trying to put a little more love and understanding in every space I enter. Sometimes, I wear the sassiest of pants and can be quite the pain in the ass; HOWEVERRRR - there's a little softie hidden underneath all that armor. That's another thing, the armor we wear can sometimes get in the way of our personal growth and hinder us from facing our shadows. I'll save that talk about armor and shadows for another time, though. That being said, let's try to be more level headed and kind to those who we find ourselves at odds with.
Compassion is the easiest way to disarm people, give it a shot!