Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lean In: Chapter 6, Seek and Speak Your Truth

Chapter 6: Seek and Speak Your Truth

Maybe someday shedding tears in the workplace will no longer be viewed as embarrassing or weak, but as a simple display of authentic emotion. And maybe the compassion and sensitivity that have historically held some women back will make them more natural leaders in the future. In the meantime, we can all hasten this change by committing ourselves to both seek -- and speak -- our truth. 
This chapter starts out with some basic advice: open and honest communication is important in the workplace. Communicating honestly without hurting feelings is a learnable skill that requires empathy for the other person. Seek and provide honest input, advice, and feedback. Use humor. Own your weaknesses.

The interesting part comes at the end. Anne-Marie Slaughter called for a shift in workplace culture that would allow us to express emotion and acknowledge our personal lives at work, without fear that it would harm our reputations. Sandberg is telling us to go for it. Sharing emotions can help us connect with colleagues, and being open about our personal lives allows us to navigate the workplace with less stress. Here she tells a story about admitting that she was turning down a prestigious job because she was getting divorced and wanted to be far away from her ex. When she was ready for the position a year later, she was able to call and say she was now interested and ready. If she had made up a story about not wanting the job for professional reasons, she wouldn't have been able to do that without sacrificing credibility. Sandberg says that in this age of eroding boundaries between work and home, we're better off being our authentic selves at work.


  1. Emotions and personal life should be allowed at work but not if they compromise productivity, in my opinión.still, I don't want mypeers or colleagues to see me cry in situations where a man would likely not cry!

  2. Although I understand where you're coming from, CP, I think men should be more like women, and feel more able to cry themselves! My new mantra is this exactly - to be my authentic self at work, which is to say, when I leave to go to my kid's class Valentine's Party or go home early to pick up the kids, I don't hide that fact. (I don't trumpet it to make a point, but I also don't lie or try to sneak.) I talk about my children in appropriate settings - something I notice that older men and the more conservative young men do not do, and try not to allow. They always divert the conversation if I ask "How's Junior?" as if admitting that they have a private life at home is NOT PERMITTED within the confines of the workplace. Even though talking about sports or their golf game or their Lions club meeting IS allowed.

    I've decided that the way I do my part for feminism is to continue to exist in the workplace as a woman and mother and not try to hide those facets of my life, and to ignore the subtle hints from older people that it is inappropriate to admit that. They seem to think it would be more appropriate if I pretend to be like the older men with SAH wives and a couple of kids, who have almost nothing to do with those kids and wives beyond hanging pictures of them in their office. I'm lucky that I work with a bunch of women and even some younger men who are also feeling more free to admit they have a family life and it's important to them. The older more conservative partners huff and puff, and talk about laziness and all that sort of thing. (HA! It's the height of laziness to have children and not contribute to their massive amounts of care in the early years, IMHO.) But we are reaching critical mass, to the point where huffing is all those guys can do, because we have enough power that they need us.

    On a related note . . . I recently brought a bag to court as my "briefcase." I don't have a traditional briefcase right now, but this piece I do have is well structured, suited to my needs, and is a moderate size. And it has a pretty bold floral pattern. I got a comment on bringing a colorful bag to court, and although I deferred politely, I wondered why this bag is inappropriate? It was under the table, so not drawing attention or distracting - the issue was that I was seen with it walking in and out, by other counsel, and that it was too feminine. (Recall this is down South and has different "rules" than up north - sometimes people don't even wear suits to court on Fridays, and in the outer counties a lot of women don't wear suits at all, any day.)

    Eff that. Feminine is allowed in the courtroom. Feminine belongs there. There as a male lawyer there with his pants tucked in his sock, unshaven, hair a mess - he had not taken care for his appearance. But I - carefully dressed and tailored, proof to the court that I made an effort - get criticized for holding a bag with flowers on it. NOPE.

    1. Anonymous10:11 PM

      I love it! I agree with you. I've worked with men that come in with their clothes wrinkled like they took it right back out of the dirty hamper for one more wear, even the GM at one time, but they don't get criticized. Let a woman come in looking like that and they'll say she's lazy and a slob.

  3. Anonymous4:30 AM

    i don't agree with sandberg. I don't want people crying all over the workplace. leave the drama at home