Let’s start with some hard truths.
If you are a grown woman, no one owes you anything.
If you are a grown woman with a job, you need thick skin.
If you are a grown woman and you run a business, you need a lion's skin.
It isn’t the responsibility of others to make you feel better about yourself. Stop expecting women to tone themselves down because you don’t like how someone “puts some things.” Those are your issues to own: own them. Taking it a step further, if you are speaking to an adult woman and she says something, she does not need you to tell her, “if you said this instead, I would receive it better.” Again, your issue. Get retail therapy, do some yoga, take a hot bath, whatever you’re into, do it, but deal with your problems on your own. Women fight enough battles every day and don’t need someone with insecurities trying to dump their issues on them too.
Harsh, huh? It is. So is having someone tell you to be different for them, so they feel good about themselves. Sounds selfish, huh? Because it is.The next time someone makes you feel uncomfortable by showing or sharing something they have strong feelings about, check yourself and ask why.
Two of the biggest challenges with tone policing:
Lack of awareness means the person is so wrapped up in their own needs that they don’t even realize they’re policing someone. The reality is that the behavior is dismissive and disrespectful. Let’s be clear. This is not an excuse to keep policing someone. It means you need to get with the program and pay attention to how they express themselves and show them the respect they deserve to do so. We happen to live in a more diverse society, and we all express ourselves differently. Instead of freaking out, maybe you should try to learn something from experience? Just a figgin thought.
The lack of accountability is the more significant challenge because this person is usually aware of what they’re doing, does it anyway, and runs in the other direction when called on it. If you can't’ handle someone being angry, emotional, passionate, disappointed, etc. - own it! Say that. Do not try to change how they feel to themselves, so it’s easier for you to handle and hide your intention. That’s cowardly behavior. Again, diverse society. Educate yourself on how to share how you feel without minimizing how the other person feels. We have a right to feel how we feel, but be careful how we deliver it. Tone policing is no longer tolerated (thank goodness for that).
Strength is something to be admired. Respected. In some cases, envied. Yet, in women, it’s often misunderstood. Feared. Judged. Passion is something we all want more of. Disappointment is a part of life - personally and professionally. We’ve all been angry or hurt, and how we show those emotions will vary. Any one of these can result in another feeling or even lead to tension and alienation. Does that mean we get to diminish someone else's emotions or experience? No, it does not. So in the spirit of women's month, if you need to tone police someone, tone police yourself. We’re not about that life.
At FIG, we keep it savage. And encourage you to do the same. Be you because we’re certainly going to be us. No tone policing on this end, and if that’s your game, you may want to give us a shout because you won’t keep people around for long with that nonsense.