Take Up Space

Empty chairs in room

Recently, several members of our team took part in a workshop designed to teach us how to have more effective communication with our clients, especially when it came to talking about the really tough stuff. What sounded like a great idea turned into something that underscored one of the biggest issues with the workplace today: we’re all told to be nice and by all..we mean women.

We call bullshit. To be clear, we’re not telling you to be a dick, we’re saying there is a difference between being nice and being kind. The latter is what we need more of.

Turns out, women have been taught their whole lives to back down, and a lot of us don’t even notice we’re doing it. This workshop was a perfect example of what not to do or a lesson in how to get our blood boiling – because it did both.

We’re here to say stop. Stop apologizing, stop backing down and stop refusing to “take up space.”

Here’s how to speak up and get your point across, regardless of gender.

Stop Apologizing

We’ve been taught our whole lives to apologize for things. The problem is that extends to shit that isn’t our fault.

Here’s an example. The other day, our Account Manager, Rowan, was at the store with their spouse, Lain. The store was packed, and a little kid was running around. He ran directly into Lain and kept going. But what’s the kicker? Lain, apologized to the child who ran into them. When Rowan asked why, Lain paused and said, “I…really don’t know. I just did.”

This is way more common than you probably think. Next time you’re in public (with a mask and social distancing, of course), keep track of how many times you say “sorry.” Keep track of how many times you step out of the way of someone else who is clearly walking the wrong direction or expecting you to move. It’s gonna be a helluva lot more common than you’re going to want to admit.

Act More Like a Villain

It’s time to practice your evil laugh (do it out loud right now). Let us break this one down for you.

Remember Ro? Well, it turns out their family used to own a theater company and they helped to teach some of the classes there. One of the courses was how to play a villain on camera or on stage. While there are a bunch of other ways to set the villain apart (have you ever realized most villains have an accent? We’ll unpack that weird nationalist sentiment another day), these are the ones that stick out:

  • Make (extended) eye contact
  • Control levels (if the hero is sitting, stand. If the hero is standing, sit.)
  • Take up space

All three of these are ways for a villain to show off to a hero that they’re in control. And guess what? It works in real life.

Most of the time, when we get uncomfortable, people avoid eye contact, freeze in place, and physically withdraw. Imagine being a child yelled at by the principal. You pull all your legs and arms in as close as you can to your body, and you look down at the ground. That’s how we subconsciously show that we aren’t a threat. We aren’t in control.

But guess what? You are in control. Look the other person in the eyes. Confidently hold your ground. Uncross your arms. Uncross your legs. Take up space!

Louder for the people in the back – TAKE UP SPACE.

Be Confident and Collaborative

We’re so sick of women being told to be kind or considerate or approachable. Imagine telling that to a room full of men. It would never happen.

We’re making our own list of things to be.

  • Confidence is key whenever there’s conflict.
  • Know what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Know who you are and what you want. And then go after it.
  • Be collaborative.
  • Speak and be heard, but listen, too.

And when all else fails, give us a call. We’ll give you the pep talk you need. Remember you’re allowed to take up space. Do it with your head held high, channel the confidence you have after your first glass of wine. You’ve got this.

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