In the corporate world, relationships can be transient, tenuous at best or openly antagonistic at the worst. In my native, 3rd world country where being a woman automatically negates you to rank below a man it can be doubly hard to be taken seriously. However having said that I would also like to be emphasize that its not an impossible task. Far from it, in fact, there are certain advantages to being a woman. You can be the prettiest thing in the office and far more likely to get the 5 minutes extra time from your boss. Ironic, I know. But take whatever you can and make the most of it.
I learnt a lot from being willing to ask twenty questions in the face of things I did not understand. I solicit different perspectives and try to keep an open mind when presented with situations that can have different implications. I also make it a point to try to get along with my male colleagues. I am not one of the boys but I am not a pretty wall flower either. Granted I can probably organize events and order coffee with more finesse but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will back down from kicking butts if I have to in order to get the result that I need to get out of them.
Most importantly, it’s the willingness to be yourself that’s most important. Fake it and people will catch on, sooner or later. Be yourself and sooner or later, people will learn to accept that. Each person has a positive and a negative. Each is endowed with a unique strength or characteristic that makes us more interesting as individuals. Play to your strength.
It is very important for me to enjoy the work that I do and the office environment that I work in. So I naturally gravitate towards making and keeping a couple of best friends at work. My best friends endured even after I left the company and over the years I have kept in touch and collected a troupe of best friends who knew me through the years and cheers me on in my flight to achieve more. They step in with advices, insights and a sympathetic ear whenever needed and in return I make it a point to be there for them. Some of these relationships survived because I actively worked on them, or pro-actively kept in touch but most work because we both recognize how good this works for us and keep working at it.
Over the years, I have worked for bosses from diverse background and different nationalities. I have enjoyed working under most of them and each has taught me something new. Most of all, somehow or the other I have managed to get along very well with my bosses. Some of these relationships evolved into life long friendship in which I benefited incalculably from their expert mentorship. It is quite something to be friends with people who have more years of experience under their belt than the total number years that I have lived.