What is bossy? Is it leadership or is it something else? Some think it should be banned or that is is used way too often with women and not enough when describing men. What do you think? Stick with me as I explore some thoughts and feelings I’ve had about this word the past few years. And, certainly push back on the desk if you have another perspective.
Episode 35 Show Notes
Episode 35 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 35 Bossy this’ll Podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? This’ll ce is a difficult topic to talk about for me. And I’ve waited to talk about it for a long time because I wasn’t quite sure the right way to share thoughts about it. And yet it is something that has come up in the last few years as a thing. And specifically, I believe it was Cheryl Sandberg that made this AA thing when she wrote her book Lean In and I read the book and I really like the book in many ways, and like all books that share ideas there, some ideas I agree with, and they’re some ideas I don’t and there are some ideas where I take some time to think about it. And the topic of Bossy really made me think, because Cheryl Sandberg brought up in some interviews that she felt like the word should be banned. Well, it’s awfully hard to ban words. I mean, people are gonna say what they’re going to say, aren’t they? We see that all over the place nowadays, and even if we don’t see it or hear it ourselves, it’s retweeted or re shared in social networks, and we can’t help but come across it. But Cheryl said that in junior high, a teacher stopped her best friend and told her, Nobody likes a bossy girl. You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you. And so there was this large public service campaign launched to talk about how girls shouldn’t be called bossy. We need to help them become leaders and work through some of the issues in society where when men are bossy, they’re thought to be leaders. And if women are bossy, they’re thought to be domineering or not liked a CZ. Well, we’re not considered in a positive light. There’s a negative connotation with that. So I started to think about this because I have had both male and female bosses. I’ve been a boss and I’m a female, and more than that, I would like to claim experience that is not on my resume. I am the oldest living child of eight Children and therefore could be called bossy by any one of them. And so I have thoughts about this. One of the first phrases I remember my sisters and then my brother’s using with me when I was in the mode of commanding and controlling them. Waas. You are not the boss of me, and it’s really interesting because I still clearly remember certain moments where there would be this little person like a four year old or seven year old or 10 year old. And they were significantly shorter than me at that moment in time because I was a teenager and I had reached close to my full height. And so I’m looking down at a very little person, and even as I’m sharing this, I’m putting my hands on my hips because I did that a lot. But they had their hands on their hips, too, and they’re looking up. A TMI fiercely sang back to me. You are not the boss of me, and here they were not even exposed to a work environment or in some cases, not having gone to school yet, and they already figured out that they did not want to be dominated by this older sister, whatever the soldier sister wanted, even if she was baby sitting. Even if the parents said, you know, follow her directions, there was a line I would cross, and everyone has a different line. But they knew when it was crossed. I knew when it was crossed I saw it in their eyes, and to this day I see it in people’s eyes when I cross a line with how I present information or make a request, and it was so interesting to me that that’s one of the first phrases I remember my siblings saying to me, especially if they were angry or just didn’t want to follow my direction. And it’s the first phrase that came to my mind when I read about this bossy thought as a woman, I feel like I can and should talk about this openly because there’s a lot of assumptions and perceptions around this topic. I am fully willing to admit that I’ve got a bossy part of me, and I have learned how to control it most of the time because I highly value controlling myself in some of these ways. In some ways, I don’t try to control it because I’m a changed person in some aspect. So I’m actually not trying to control my behavior because I feel like I’m using the right behavior for the moment that I have been in situations where I’ve observed bossiness and I’ve observed leadership. And there is a distinctly different feeling for me when I think of those two terms and so I don’t feel and I’m using the word feel on purpose because these air just my feelings and you may have different feelings and you’ll have those feelings based upon your thoughts and your experiences. But at the end of the day, for me, I don’t really care if you’re a man or a woman. Sometimes I feel like you’re bossy, and I don’t really care if you’re a man or a woman. Sometimes I feel like I’m being led. And for me, most of these experiences have not been gender specific, right? Like I remember being on the playground and thinking those girls are bossy and I did not want to play with um, and I didn’t like when they tried to boss me around and I might not have fought back, but in my mind. I was writing them off, which may or may not be a strength or weakness, depending on the setting. But if boys acted that way, too, I don’t know if I’d call them bossy, but I certainly wasn’t thinking of them as leaders, that’s for sure. I might be thinking they’re jerks or I could be thinking they’re bossy, But it was very dependent upon the feeling I got when I interacted with them. And so I took some time to look up there so many definitions. So I just took one of the first ones that came up on a search engine for Bossy. And it was an adjective and said Fonder of giving people orders domineering. And I thought the sentence was kind of funny. She was bossy, scared of nobody and full of vinegar, which that’s a great sentence. And it may be completely appropriate for a situation right to be this bossy scared of nobody and full of vinegar. It sounds kind of like some kind of superhero, but it put down a similar terms. Domineering, dominating, overbearing, masterful, highhanded, high and mighty authoritarian, dictatorial, strict, harsh, severe iron handed, controlling, despotic, tyrannical, draconian, oppressive subject gating, undemocratic, anti democratic, pushy, cocky and the opposite submissive. And it says throwing ones wait about. Those are strong words and may be appropriate for some situations. Then I looked up leading, which couldn’t do that, that that’s something that’s used for topography, but it settled on leadership is that seemed to bring up the right context, but as a noun, the action of leading a group of people organ organization, the state, our position of being a leader, the leaders of an organization or country which didn’t really describe it, I don’t think. But they’re similar words listed that describe leadership, and the similar words are guidance direction, authority control management. I thought those were interesting words because most of them were not like the word bossy except for control. So, of course, I looked up control, which, as a side note, has 4,000,580,000 results, which was more than double the results for leadership. And of course, leadership had more than double the results of bossy. But control had, as a noun the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events a group or individual used as a standard of comparison for checking the results of a survey or experiment as a verb, determined the behavior or supervise the running of or taken to account an extraneous factor that might affect results when performing an experiment. And the word control is very interesting, because if you look at the similar words, there’s jurisdiction sway, power authority, command dominance that there’s words in there that people certainly have thoughts about our feelings about and how control can be seen as both positive and negative, because as the rest of the list, I haven’t even read, you know, to rule or rain supremacy, predominance, charge, management direction, guidance, supervision. It starts to intertwine with leadership. But there’s some intertwining with bossy and looking at all these definitions. You start to see how difficult it is to really get down to the core of what’s the difference between bossy and leadership. And really, it is a perspective. It’s the thoughts we have it about it and the feeling we have when we experience it. And so I know for me, I feel like if someone’s bossy, I feel forced into whatever they’re requesting. I feel controlled, but I feel like if someone’s leading me. I feel like there isn’t this control going on and I don’t feel forced. I feel like I’m being influenced by them, and I personally desire to make a change where I personally desire to follow them, and that is a completely different feeling for me. And so it’s really interesting to me to find out from other people what they think about bossing and leading because over the past couple of years I have seen people share freely quotes from Cheryl Sandberg and say, Yes, I was a bossy little girl and I’ve made a few comments where some people have said, Well, who are you? Because I said, Wait a second, I’m not so sure that that’s what you want to say. Are you really trying to say that you were a very strong leader and some people had a problem with that or that you were actually bossy? And I made my comments from a place of how I feel when I’m in that experience. But maybe other women and men don’t feel that way, and in a survey is on an NPR article where they were talking about this lean in and some other books related to it. It said that even in their poll that 76% of the respondents were women because they were more likely to take the particular poll. And they thought bossy was a bad word. But yet 76% of the men who chimed in, which was not very high percentage, said bossy was not a bad word, and young men were more likely than older men to say that bossy is not a bad word. So what are they thinking of when they hear bossy? So this is just all very interesting to me. But at the end of the day, regardless of the word, it matters how we feel because we take action from how we feel. And if someone in front of you, male or female, is asking you to do something, or persuading you or influencing in any way or that’s what they are trying to do, what you feel about that is going to drive your actions. If you’re someone you can say, Oh, they’re bossy and do it anyway, that’s great. You can feel that they’re bossy and you’re gonna do it, but you have no desire to do anything else for them that gives you a clue as to what’s going to happen in the future of this type of interaction with this person, or if they say something and you feel like they’re leading you and guiding you and supporting you, what kind of action are you going to take? And so my thought is not to worry about whether a word is banned or not, but to pay attention to how we respond or react to what another person is doing if they’re in a management or leadership position or even as a co worker or friend. Or this could be anywhere and to determine if how you feel drives you into actions that you’re happy with and results you’re happy with. And if not, figure out why. And more importantly, it’s a great experience to reflect on that and go Do I want to be that way? Do I want to be bossy? Do I want to be a leader? And if I do, why and if I do act in certain ways to pay attention to how people respond to that, do they seem to want to follow and ask for more opportunities to follow and help out, Or do they seem to get it done and then get out of the way? And what? What’s going on in that interaction? Because that could be very telling. I’m sure some of you have seen this play out between genders, and I’m sure I have to. But I know that I have felt like I have been led and influenced in great ways from both male and female bosses. And I feel like I’ve been bossed from bossy males and females and in all of the situations I chose what to do about it and some I told them, and some I did not and complied and others I complied and then changed my mind about them in good ways. And in some I just wanted to do what they asked and ask for more and had more interactions. So what are your thoughts? I’d be really interested to know your experiences with these words and these types of interactions, but I’d like to end where I started off, and that is with the little 45 year old that looked up into my eyes and said, You’re not the boss of me and how we get very clued in very young as to how we feel about our interactions with others, especially with those that are, or that we perceive to be in a position of authority over us. Just some thoughts. Convoluted though they need. I really loved your doors. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at. Move your desk dot com. See you next Monday.