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Thread: perceptions of people, can we change?

  1. #1
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    perceptions of people, can we change?

    The perceptions that people have of me, I just wonder if I can have any effect on how other people see me. I generally don't care what others think, of course I have some areas that do seem to matter, but mostly I tend to care when I see it affecting my life. I personally try to make sure I am not getting sucked into an easy way to classify people, and I love when someone is outside the box of what I would think of them. The parents really are great that way, the heavily tattooed dentist, the clean cut Black Flag fan, the dad who donated 2 trash bags of yarn and used to crochet toys.

    So I had a conversation with a colleague that I don't see that often at a training. We talked about the most recent people who left out of the 47 of us in our position. One had the curt email announcement, I know she was given the option to resign or be fired. Another had an email that said she had moved on to another job at the school. My colleague commented that she knew the person would go far. I recall that the person who moved on volunteered for every committee, did extra things, and sometimes I cleaned up after her overambition. Another part of the conversation I mentioned that I had been interested in moving up at times, she seemed really surprised. That has been my gut feeling, that people at work have a perception of me that does not include ambition for lack of a better word. At least they have the perception I am nice and that I will help anyone who reaches out to me. I also volunteer (or have) for many committees and have done extra things over the years. I also have gray hair, am 50 and who knows what else.

    I have often felt this invisible wall around the things I strive for, and I wonder if this is more universal than I originally thought. I have considered some of my INFJ-ness is a factor. I always thought I could show up with qualifications and my introversion was beside the point, and now I see all these things appear to take social connections. Social connections with people who understand when you are trying to get somewhere. I can't tell you how many places I have volunteered at or was a long-term sub teacher at that didn't even call me back when I applied for a permanent job. They had a perception of me as a volunteer, and no matter how glowing my review was I did not break through to employee.

    My question is how universal is this, do lots and lots of people struggle and I am one of them, or maybe I am just that messed up in some way?

  2. #2
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    I think you are describing a form of discrimination that women over 50 are always facing, especially ones who leave the workforce for any length of time.
    I think volunteerism can mark you and hurt when it comes to getting a job.
    I think many workplaces exploit women, especially older women, by demanding volunteerism and refusing to pay a wage--they guilt people into doing it.
    I think you are describing universal barriers that women born before a certain time face in the workplace.
    I don't think it's you.

  3. #3
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    Thank you Tybee, I have felt it is often being female and over a certain age. Wasn't sure but it makes a lot of sense.
    I am one of the facilitators of a weekly Buddhist Dharma call. We have recently talked about telling people how to make donations towards the organization and call. Our teacher just quit being a nun and is still a teacher but it changes her relationship to money now, she has fewer restrictions. (someone else needed to do the donation talk and that was awkward). So the idea is that if we are getting donations those could go to the facilitator!
    There was just this amazing opening for me, I have never received anything for the work and study I have done, and I didn't really expect it. However it felt like being valued and it felt like I could then go on to support my teachers and my further study and retreats with this support. Okay we have small numbers on the call, but if nothing else I can put this on my work 'goal tracker' as not a volunteer position now.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    As a man, I don't think I can speak to the "invisibility" of women over 50 (I think it exists but I can't discuss its applicability in this situation). I do think that there is something else at play here: a method of interaction I experience far more with women than men. (Again, this is my experience in over half a century on the planet.)

    Many women are not direct about asking for what they want. The common joke about this is a wife looking at her husband and saying, "Are you going to wear that?" (Most) men hear that question and, until they've learned it's not really a question, simply reply factually. Most women seem to understand the "question" as a mild criticism of his clothing and that the husband should change at least some of what he's wearing.

    I always thought I could show up with qualifications and my introversion was beside the point, and now I see all these things appear to take social connections. Social connections with people who understand when you are trying to get somewhere.
    "Qualifications" is the table ante. It gets you to where you are now. To go further requires the intention, stated to yourself first and then out loud to others, that you want something more or different.

    That can come in many forms -- what was said to people before or when you started the task in question ("This is a skill/experience I've always wanted to add in my career"; "This is great experience for when I supervise"; whatever), the initiative you have in identifying areas in which you need more practice/experience/new skills ("You know, I've thought about making a database for that for a long time. Can I help you put this database together?"), and so on. There are a million ways to tell those in your life that you're interested in progressing beyond where you are. Of course, it has to be backed up with actions that move you toward your goal.

    As an INxJ myself, I get how much tooting one's own horn should seem unnecessary. But it has to be done, for the non-INxJs and the others who aren't keen to guess. If we don't drive the narrative about ourselves, we leave it for others to write the story themselves. Too often they don't coincide. Which, I think, frustrates too many people.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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