A couple of weeks ago, I attended a networking luncheon titled, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” Each panelist talked about the challenges they have had to overcome as women by being called “bossy.”
As I sat there, it made me think about the way we perceive things. You can think negatively about any phrase or you can turn it around and become more powerful because of it.
When I was growing up I was often called “short.”
I’ll never forget my mother taking me to the Barbizon School For Modeling. When I was growing up, that was where girls went if they wanted to pursue a modeling career. As we sat with the director, she complimented me on my posture, the way I answered her questions, and my overall personality. I could tell by the look on my mother’s face that she thought I was going to be accepted.
What the director said next took us by surprise. She said, “Barbizon models hold to a higher standard. Barbizon models must be at least ____ feet tall.” Quite truthfully, I don’t remember what the exact height was but I can tell you I didn’t meet that “standard.” What she was really saying was that I was “too short.”
Needless to say, my mother was livid. Just because I was under 5 feet tall shouldn’t stop me from being a model. As we walked into the elevator my mother said what she had always said to me, “great things come in small packages.”
I believe a lot of what we think and feel about the “words” people use has to do with our perception of them.
In school when it came time to pick teams, I can tell you I was happy I was “short’ because basketball wasn’t my thing. Archery, on the other hand, was.
When it came time for school pictures, I was happy I was “short” because that meant I was put in the front row!
There’s no doubt I could have taken those negative comments differently, but I had a mother who instilled in me certain values. Most importantly, value in my abilities and myself.
Definition of Bossy
What does this have to do with being called “bossy?” After all this talk about the word, I looked it up in the dictionary and here’s what it said, “Fond of giving people orders; domineering. Synonyms: domineering, pushy overbearing, imperious, officious, high handed, authoritarian, dictatorial controlling.” What I found really interesting was the sentences, they used: “We’re hiding from his bossy sister.” It also said, “She was headlong, bossy, scared of nobody, and full of vinegar.” There wasn’t any sentence referencing a man being bossy.
As I read the definition, I couldn’t help but think back to the people who I felt were bossy, and actually, the majority of them were men! My mind went back to the conversation I had with a boss who said, “ Oh honey, you can’t start a business. You need to stay here and just keep working for me.”
I think a lot of women have been called “bossy” just because they asserted themselves. If that makes me bossy, then yes, I am.
The times I was called “bossy” were because I was taking positive actions to get a job completed. I realized I was being called “bossy” by another person because they felt threatened. Threatened because they couldn’t come up with the necessary plan or figure out how to execute it properly.
If being “scared of nobody” makes me bossy, then yes, I am.
As for the other terms, I’m not pushy, overbearing, domineering, or any of those other things.
Definition of Boss
The definition of “boss” is, “a person in charge of a worker or organization. Synonyms: head, chief, director, president, principal, chief executive. The verb: give someone orders in a domineering manner. Adjective: excellent, outstanding.”
Another definition said, “ One who makes decisions or exercises authority.”
I’ll take you back in time again. I would play cowboys and Indians with my sister. My sister and I both wanted to be in charge of who said and did what. Enter in my mother who said, “You can’t have all chiefs and no Indians.” Somebody had to be in charge, and somebody had to be told what to do. You might be thinking, “Who got to be the chief?” Well, we both did because we went out and got some of our friends who became the Indians so we could both be the chiefs.
The point is someone has to be in charge. It’s the way you are in charge (the boss) that matters.
To me, a “boss” can see the strengths in others and utilize that individual so the project runs more efficiently. The right “boss” can make you feel like you have the best job in the world. A good “boss” makes you feel valued and appreciated.
If being a boss means making decisions or exercising authority then count me in.
By the way, my mother said I’m not short, I’m petite.
Be savvy and successful!