Everyone knows that when you say “per my last email” what you really mean is “b*tch, can you read?”. But obviously you can’t say that to your boss or client. In fact, if I’m being honest, I can’t say half the things I’m thinking if I want to keep things professional (and keep my job). That said, it’s still important to stick up for yourself and your work when appropriate.
This post was triggered by a brand collaboration. In my situation the brand wasn’t “satisfied” with my post (which I thought was great, by the way) and I was fuming. When it isn’t a paid or sponsored collaboration, I generally don’t seek brands’ approval on a post— and this post was no different. In my mind, they had no business asking me to reshoot the product, because they didn’t pay me. The first three drafts I wrote out in response to their email were heated. I was being snarky and defensive. What I really wanted to say was, “if you want to Venmo me you can have an opinion, otherwise kick rocks.” But, I didn’t (obviously, I’m not 12).
While this post is mostly inspired by influencer work, it can apply to your career, too. So, how do you keep it professional when you really want to say “f*ck you”?
1) Take a breather. If you’re in the office, and get out of a meeting where there are a lot of varying opinions or tension, take a breather. Leave the office immediately and take a walk around the block. You’ll come back more level headed and ready to offer your input. The same goes for influencer work. If you’re dealing with a needy client who likes to micromanage (annoying AF, but that’s a topic for another day), leave the email on read for a while until you can gather your thoughts. No one wants to regret what they said in an email after it’s already been sent.
2) Stand your ground (but be open minded). If you feel strongly about your work, stand up for yourself. Don’t bow down just because you’re afraid to speak up. On the same coin, you should always welcome constructive criticism or suggestions— whether you end up applying it to your work or not. That’s how you grow. So, be open minded, but know the value of your work.
3) Explain your reasoning. You should always be ready to back up your work with an explanation. In my situation, the brand wasn’t happy that other jewelry was visible in the photo. I had to explain that layering (many) rings is how I would style it in real life, so that’s how I am going to style it on the ‘gram. I like to keep my style and posts authentic, especially if I’m anticipating my followers to make a purchase from my post. After I explained that, and they were able to see things from my point of view, they were a lot more flexible with my content.
4) Listen. It’s our natural instinct to get defensive, but sometimes you just have to listen. This is especially true in an office setting. What your boss has to say will likely teach you a thing or two, so whether you agree with it or not, listen before you speak.
5) When all else fails, go with a passive-aggressive “sure”. A lot of times in your career (regardless of the industry), you’ll get asked to do things you’re not thrilled about. Whether that’s adding or editing a deliverable for your client, or taking on a project outside of your pay grade in the office. In order to prove yourself, and your willingness to grow, you have to grin and bear it. That said, I’m not above a passive-agressive “sure”— which means, “yeah, I’ll do it, but I really don’t want to.”