Dear Michelle,

I love your blog and was hoping to get your advice on something.

I have a great job, but I feel isolated from other staffers sometimes.  I am the only female on my team and when we are doing a project everything is great.  But, hanging out in the lunchroom, workplace gatherings and other downtime is a bummer for me.  I try to relate to the guys, but it is difficult to jump in when they are in “guy mode”.

They relax and talk to each other about sports and family stuff from a guy perspective.  I totally get it, and no one is mean, but when I walk into the conversation the tone changes.  It is much like when my girls and I are chatting fashion and a guy walks in.  We are all in different zones.  The problem is, I want to be promoted in my job and have close knit relationships with my team.  What should I do?     -Girl Power Suit

First of all You Rock!

I have worked as the sole female in an executive boardroom and even on national conference calls.  It can be intimidating, but I have a few tips to help you enjoy your position of “girl power”.

Remember how you got there.  You are sitting at that desk, doing what you do, because the company believes in you.  So believe in yourself. I have free resource  How To Do Everything You Want, with tips for getting your goals done.

Try setting up a few emails and texts to come at random times to remind you of your power, skill and likeability.  When you anchor yourself on your right to be where you are, you are less likely to be intimidated by anyone.

 Unfortunately for a lot of people, doubt creeps in and tells you things that aren’t true. Things like “you can’t do it”, “they won’t let you”, “you can never get the opportunity” are negative thought-loops that can be overcome.

Doubt Killers is a great resource that can help.

Be Yourself! The worst thing that you can do is to try to pretend that you know all about the game last night or are a fan of the latest video game, when you are not. In Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,  Lois P. Frankel lists common mistake that women make in the workplace. Seeking approval instead of being confident diminishes your perceived ability.  Your co-workers will see your fakeness and may not be laughing “with you”.  Guys are experts at being themselves.  You be an expert at being you.  When you are being your “dazzling self”, you draw people into wanting to be around you. So, you may not bond over last night’s hockey game with the guys, but you are an expert at why their wives were mad at them for spending the whole night watching last night’s game! Make a point to be the master of doing “You”.

Set Boundaries – I know that you want tips on how to relate and mix with the guys, but you have to remember that there is always a difference.  Hopefully, you have your own bathroom to prove it.  Don’t seek to make people your friends by bending over backwards to please them or being too “touchy-feely” in the office.  Those are recipes for an uncertain future. Keep a lot of your emotional highs and lows out of the workplace.  The post Leading While Bleedingoffers some great tips on how to to reign in your emotions at work.

Don’t be afraid to have the right answer – Many women think they have to “dumb down” in order to get ahead. This can cause us to lose out on the opportunity to show our intelligence because we self-censor. In The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons writes that starting from a young age, girls may hesitate to raise their hands in class unless they are sure of the answers. Or worse yet, they don’t want to seem “too smart” so they stay quiet. These girls grow into women who hesitate to speak up in class and in meetings. As a result, their male peers get more credit for asking questions and having good ideas. But, that isn’t going to be you.  

If you have an idea add it to the pot.  Don’t get emotionally attached to if it is used or not.  Your company wants the right answers that make them the most money at the least cost.  If you can make that happen, do it!  Pave the way for the next woman. You can do it!

This was an amazing question for being the only “X” in an office full of “Y’s”. Race, ethnicity, even location (I have been the only southerner in quite a few offices and it is a thing).

I’d love to here your thoughts in the comments.

You can do it!  I am here to help!