Saturday, July 08, 2006


This is another big one for African Americans because we are often fighting the perception that we don’t care about our work, projects, etc. We’re sometimes perceived to be going through the motions and just waiting to cash a check.

To help fight this false perception, you should get more involved in projects--especially if you hope to advance within the company. Even if you are normally ignored, make sure you speak up in meetings. But, no matter what anyone says, don’t just speak for the sake of speaking. I once had a White manager tell me I should ask questions that I knew the answers to, that I should paraphrase or agree with something that someone already said or that I should make a suggestion, even if it wasn’t great or if I didn’t believe in what I was suggesting. The rationale was that this behavior supposedly showed I was listening and participating in the meeting. Sorry! I didn’t buy that argument then and I don’t buy that argument now. I think it’s clear when people are just talking to be talking and I think it makes you look ridiculous.

Tip #1: If you don’t have anything of value to contribute, shut up.

Tip #2: If you have a question, ask for answers.

Tip #3: If you make suggestions, keep a list of the ideas you’ve shared. That way, if you are later accused of not providing your input, you can respond with specific examples of ideas you’ve shared with the group.


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