One of my favorite television characters is Dr. Lisa Cuddy from the show House. She is strong, independent, smart, and willing to take on anything (including Dr. House). She gets into arguments I never would have the guts to, and seems to proceed confidently despite the regular antics in the show. Though I know she is technically fictional, I look up to her.
My favorite episode is called “5 to 9”, and it follows Dr. Cuddy exclusively for the entire day / show. The episode wasn’t just a great behind-the-scenes — it really showed what it’s like to deal with complicated situations. The Dr. Cuddy that I thought was invincible actually cries in the stairwell after a confrontation. Woah!
One of the most notable features of the episode is the B-Word. It gets thrown at her at least five times throughout the episode, and but not because she is doing anything wrong. It wasn’t even because the word slinger was pissed about not getting their way. In fact, it was almost always because she was doing something right.
If You’re Nasty
Our political climate has absolutely cast a new light on what it means to run for office. Personally, it’s left me scratching my head as to our vetting process, but that’s a different conversation. I know no one will argue with me if I say that there have been some memorable sound bytes this time around, the latest of which seems to back up my theory about the B-Word.
During the final Presidential Debate, Trump interrupts Hillary’s answer regarding taxes to call her a Nasty Woman. Literally, he leans forward after shaking his head and utters, “Such a nasty woman.” It seems so out of left field it’s hard to believe it happened. Hillary’s reaction was admirable — she had none. She kept right on with her answer rather than feed the negativity.
More and more it seems that being called names (ie. the B-Word) in your work means you’re probably doing something right.
The B-Word is A Hot Button for Most Women
It’s really hard for a woman to be called a b****. The word typically drums up sexist connotations, especially when it comes from a man. I know that if I’m called any name, I want to curl up and die. What usually happens is a tin of ice cream is eaten under a blanket while I wonder where I went wrong…
Most of us aren’t equipped to handle such slander. Even when it’s constructive criticism, it can be hard to hear. The extent of our training typically comes from high school mean girls. I’m a pleaser, so I didn’t even get that training. I just avoided the ‘nastiness’ altogether.
Piss ‘Em Off
Let’s pause to remember the age old phrase “If you’re not pissing people off, you’re probably not doing anything at all.” We live in such a diverse world that it’s likely even your smile will make someone mad. Actually, it probably has — cynics like to read into that stuff.
Going into business for yourself means you’ll be touching lives and becoming a slightly more public figure. You’ll be networking for your business, marketing it, managing employees, and maybe even writing about your life like I do. Someone is going to get pissed off, hate it, think it’s stupid, or just plain tell you you’re wrong.
Let’s take my friend as an example. Sherri is awesome. She went into business to help make people feel better about themselves through coaching and healing. Her work literally changes lives for the better.
Sherri is also a mom, and she lives in a conservative part of America. There is no doubt in my mind that she is doing the right thing, but she is regularly told that she’s a “terrible mother” for spending time on her business. To which my jaw drops because she would stand in front of a bus for her kids.
All this to say I know it’s really hard to hear something negative from someone, especially when it’s about your life’s work, but you have no idea through what lens they see you. More often than not, they’re not talking to you — they’re talking to some preconceived notion or are upset they’re not getting their way.
So next time you get called the B-Word (or a Nasty Woman), pause before getting out the ice cream. You may be in the middle of achieving something great.