Knowledge is Power (and you don’t have any)
The young lanky girl took my order at Subway. She was slow, but accommodating. I tend to have a lot of patience for people that try hard to get it right and didn’t respond in an impatient manner with her. With my sandwich completed, her sidekick rang up my order.
“Should I put this in a large bag?”, the lanky girl asked the more experienced sandwich maker.
“No! It will all fit in one bag. Don’t you know that?”
Quietly and timidly the lanky girl walked away and pretended to clean the counter-top while the other girl stuffed my sandwich into the plastic bag calling, “Have a great day” at my back as I walked away.
It seems like a normal conversation between a trainee and a trainer, but it nagged at me. It left me with great pause and sadness, which ultimately drew me to these questions:
Why do we shamelessly gloat when another woman doesn’t know something, rather than teach them?
Why is it when we do have the opportunity to train or share information, we don’t?
And my final question is: what drives that behavior?
After careful reflection I could actually sum it up. Women play a game with one another. It’s called – Knowledge is Power and You Have None.
Recently a co worker of my own played this game with me, doing her very best to sabotage me in my new position. Finally on a Friday, six weeks after my first day I flat out asked her to stop treating me in that manner. I stated it was unproductive and unprofessional. Whenever I asked a question, she gave me a snide response or a violent burst of emotion. This, over time, rattled my confidence because she had held the role for six solid years before I came on board. It wasn’t long into my new position that I realized that I didn’t deserve to be treated in that manner and wouldn’t put up with it. Regardless of the holes in my training, I should be allowed to ask a simple question without backlash.
What drove my co worker was her insecurity and steadfast stubbornness to not train me. She refused to facilitate or react in a positive way to support in my development and embrace me into my new role. And one day, she flat out told me, with her finger pointed in my face – I will not train you. Don’t ask me any more questions. Shocked, I decided that I could find others to answer my questions, and was ultimately successful.
So I do identify a lot with the Subway Stylist. And, frankly I am saddened at the prospect that she will move from the role of sandwich person to another job and another job and will likely get treated the same way if she reports to a female leader. This won’t be her first experience with the game.
Sharing information, empowering another and listening are the biggest gifts you can give. As women we are phenomenal networkers and have an opportunity to rise to the top – together in corporate America. I strongly encourage us all to take a moment and slow down to monitor our treatment of one another in the workplace and with each other. Common courtesy has become uncommon.
Written by Bella Petite Job Seeking Expert: Elizabeth Lions, Executive Coach and Author
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