Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s call to “Ban Bossy” has sparked a huge backlash. Many commentators object to being told what they can and can’t say. Sandberg objects to calling women and girls bossy when men and boys are called confident for the same type of behavior.
Beth Monaghan, co-founder of the public relations agency InkHouse Media + Marketing, agrees with Sandberg. As the head of a mostly-female public relations firm, Monaghan takes the campaign one step further by encouraging confidence in women.
She tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that women don’t need to act like men to get ahead, but they can adapt some of their confidence behaviors to be successful.
Interview Highlights: Beth Monaghan
On why she believes in “banning bossy”
“I do think we should ban the word bossy. I mean, when you think about it, for young children, you would never call a little boy bossy. But last week, my daughter’s teacher, I showed up at school and she told me that my daughter was being bossy that week. And the data shows that when you tell a child, a girl, that she is bossy, it discourages her from raising her hand. I am the mother of two young girls under the age of five, and I want them to raise their hands early and high.”
On how she found the confidence to start her own company
“I knew I knew how to do PR, but I didn’t know how to build a company, and it was good that I didn’t know that. So I got into it, and I quickly realized that, you know, I had built my career by being the person who worked hard, but I wasn’t necessarily the person they wanted sitting at the table, so I needed to learn how to do that. So I started studying how other confident people acted at the table, and I started trying to adapt that for my own personal style.”
5 Confidence-Building Tips From Beth Monaghan
- “When you walk into a room, your first impression is non-verbal, so I always tell women, particularly, when they’re walking into the room, you just stand up tall, please smile, extend your hand out, and look the person in the eye. They’re very tactical tips, but they work.”
- “You shut people down when you say no. It comes off much more confidently if you say, ‘Yes, we can do that, if we do this, this and this’ … I always say, ‘Please find a way to yes.’”
- “I think you should choose your words pretty carefully. Early, early in my career, I had a boss who told me that I said the word like too much … and she said that I had great ideas, but that it masked my ideas.”
- “When you give an update to your boss, to a client, and you’re phrasing good results like a question, they sound like they might be bad results. So you can’t let your voice go up at the end of a sentence. Tell a few close people around you that you’re working on it. If you have a mentor, tell that person that you’re working on it. Have them help you know when you’re doing it so that you can stop doing it.”
- “There’s a woman named Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School, and she has this — she’s done a lot of research into power poses, and she looks at it from the animal kingdom to humans, and what she has found is that if you take a powerful pose — she’s not suggesting that you do it in the meeting, but perhaps you do it in the bathroom before the meeting — it amps up your testosterone and makes you feel more confident. So if you think about Wonder Woman, with her arms on her hips — that’s a power pose.”