by Anne Desrosiers
As a young female professional, the task of verbally communicating discontent can be daunting. As a nonprofit entrepreneur it is even more difficult to express dissatisfaction given the benevolent position most people involved choose to take. Historically, women have not been applauded for having strength in their business approaches in comparison to men. We have been called all types of names (bossy comes to mind) and portrayed negatively for standing firm and expressing ourselves assertively. Yet, in any business you never want anyone to feel slighted by what you have to say.
One of the lessons I have learned over the course of this year is expressing dissatisfaction. It was hard for me to tackle for all the aforementioned reasons and because somehow in the course of business having emotion became perceived as a quick trigger to defensiveness, anger, and blame when on the receiving end of it. Nevertheless, the greatest teachers we have are the criticisms and critiques that can ensure long-term success. As the most recent lesson learned on this journey called social entrepreneurship, I was able to articulate my issues while continuing to progress towards a clearer vision of what I want.
So how exactly did I tackle the big scary bear of expressing what I was unhappy with?
1. VENT: I vented my emotions to those I could trust. Emotion is good to let out but it can cloud communications as the visible response that people pay attention to.
2. SEEK: I sought those who could weigh in objectively and provide other ways of saying what I wanted to express.
3. WRITE: I wrote down my points. There is something about having tangible bullet points that can ease the tension around addressing dissatisfaction.
4. APPROACH. Dissatisfaction doesn't feel good but the root of it is usually something pragmatic. By going through all these steps you can arrive to an approach that is received the way you intend it to be.
This was my process to overcome something I had been struggling with for a while. While it may seem tedious to have a process for tackling sentiments that are difficult to express, it’s an important lesson. It felt good to conquer the emotions underpinning my frustration because they were getting in the way of my message. It felt amazing to get points across without putting people on defense. In order to have people understand my point of view all these steps were beneficial to keeping my emotions from taking center stage. Even when sharing something that wasn’t positive, I am proud that the true professional and boss was able to shine through.