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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Getting Over Requires Going THROUGH

Everyone faces challenges in the workplace, but if you're a person of color, especially if you're a female person of color, you're going to face even more hardships. When I started out in the workforce, I experienced snubs, dismissive attitudes, and outright sexual harassment that stifled my spirit and made my climb even harder.

The obstacles out there for Brown and Black professionals are very real. One in five Americans is a woman of color, and yet they represent only 3% of all C-suite positions, and just 9% of director positions according to research produced by the Catalyst Research foundation.

My message today is one of grit and hope: hang in there. When you're facing your own mountain— a disrespectful boss, a frustrating coworker, a slow climb— remember that your journey is long and you will get there. When I was stuck in my climb, I felt like I would never be able to get past the frustration of an unsupportive work environment. I hadn't found my voice.

In my case, a few things happened that helped me on my journey. I reached out to a manager who supported me in pursuing a complaint against the employee who harassed me at the office. I did some emotional work to understand why I had been slow to raise my hands in meetings, and later I took a crazy opportunity to work in Germany for my company.

These steps didn't happen all in one week, and none of them were totally smooth sailing, but what mattered most was that I didn't stop. I kept pushing forward on my journey.

If you need help, here are a few tactics I use with my coaching clients to help break down that massive mountain into something more climbable.

Build relationships

Nobody is an island, and if you're facing an uphill journey, find yourself a climbing buddy. Reach out to colleges and peers and let them know about your frustrations. Find a mentor outside of your team who can advise you.

Develop your emotional intelligence.

For your own self-preservation, you may be in the habit of treating work and home as absolutely separate spheres, but I want to challenge you on that. There's no real line between personal and professional, so the emotional issues that affect you in your private life are going to affect you in your professional life. Think about the ways that issues in your private life are affecting your climb. Is there work to do there?

Shift your mindset

Remember that you always have options. You can choose how you respond to your struggles, to make yourself an active participant, not a passive vessel that life happens to. Maybe your situation is too toxic to continue supporting. In that case, you can and should protect your health and wellbeing and find a different position. You are in charge of your life, and you can make serious waves in your organization.

Do you need help identifying the points of struggle in your professional journey? Click here to book a consultation with me, and we'll get started.

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