{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Male client just told me to tell one of women on my team that her communication style is “too aggressive” so if anyone knows of a good bridge to throw him off of, I’m open to suggestions.", "post_id": "627aa7b45c9f37002a8a893d", "reply_count": 119, "vote_count": 117, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting", "feed_type": "crowd" }

Male client just told me to tell one of women on my team that her communication style is “too aggressive” so if anyone knows of a good bridge to throw him off of, I’m open to suggestions.

likefunnyuplifting
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Anyone who has ever gotten this feedback knows how much it stings. The main reason is because this feedback is vague and not actionable. You can’t fix it yet you’re told something is wrong. It is also tough to hear because being concise, direct, and timely are good leadership traits yet people also perceive these as aggressive in women so often it is a double standard. Lastly, people’s *perceptions* of aggression vary widely and it is hard to get consensus on what behaviors, words, or phrases (and in what scenarios) are perceived as aggressive and by whom and when. It’s a moving target.

So yes, OP is right to be frustrated enough to want to toss someone off a bridge today. This is frustrating to address. It’s frustrating for anyone to hear, of course, but the male/female dynamic is just another layer of irksome.

likehelpful

Agree with a lot of comments. Not enough context to say who’s right or not. It would not be logical. In any case, the client is paying the bills so account management skills are important for anyone interacting with them.

A couple of comments:

* A good feedback framework is to address behaviors not individuals

* Side note that I do feel that generally through media people have a bad idea of what it takes to be a good influential leader… I could understand how this compounded with a lack of good female role models in leadership roles may lead some women to believe that traits of bad male leaders are desirable traits in leaders generally… e.g. being overly aggressive or talking over people are bad traits of a leader for either gender… some other traits that the media portrays as desirable for leadership simply are recipes for bad human beings in general. The best leaders of either gender I’ve had have always had more admirable traits… ability to inspire, ability to coach, ability to stay calm in the face of pressure, etc. I think we as communities need to elevating traits like that, not the ones TV shows and movies tell us make for success.

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Without any additional context from OP, more often than not, when someone tells women they’re being “aggressive” or “bossy”, it’s in response to behavior that either would not be noted at all in men or would even be praised as “displaying leadership qualities” or “taking charge”. Double points if a woman of color is being called aggressive.

likesmartfunny

got it

If your client thinks she’s being too aggressive, maybe she is? Is it not possible to be too aggressive as a woman?

likesmart

Yes, but without specific context and examples, it has zero value as feedback and simply comes across as sexist. This is the type of feedback women have gotten for years and it holds us back.

like

Regardless of man or woman (in either position), that could be relevant feedback.

likesmart

Lmao you are aware women are capable of being aggressive as well right? You’re such an ally!!

likefunnysmart

Ask him for a specific example/incident where she was being "too aggressive" and how he'd prefer that she'd have handled that.

If he responds with vague/non-specific responses, then I think its important to communicate the issue upwards within the firm to get guidance.

likehelpful

If he's a sexist, this will give him enough rope to hang himself.

If he's got genuine feedback, this will provide actionable learning opportunities.

like

Instead of “aggressive” maybe suggest she’s too “emotional” female colleagues love that feedback

funnylike

I think the best advice would be to replace the word aggressive with angry…Then when she gets angry say “See, this is exactly what I’m talking about” always compound your micro aggressions. #sarcasm

funnylike

Kind of the beauty of being a client, you’re paying disgusting fees so you get to dictate how the communication works

likesmart

Short of harassment, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. It’s a shitty dynamic, but it is the dynamic

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I cannot believe the blowback on this post… people are so willfully ignorant of microaggressions. If OP thinks the client’s comment was unwarranted then it probably was. And it is a gender thing.

like

Ahh yes. “Micro aggression”.

like

Unpopular opinion:

Communication isnt objective, and there often isn’t any clear determinator of aggression or passivity. However, if the person you’re communicating with experiences problems with your communication style, but not those of your teammates, who cares why! You need to adjust your communication style to effectively communicate with them, regardless.

The advice to your teammate should then be: colleague thinks you’re too aggressive, soften your tone.

likesmart

If, by “pleasing the client” you mean undermining an otherwise effective & talented employee, you need to look at your own management skills because your job as a manager is to build up your people, not tear them down at the direction of a thin-skinned client.

like

Real talk: sometimes some women can be aggressive.

like

This is so stupid lol.. throw him off a bridge? Sheesh.

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Lol the irony 🤣

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I have absolutely worked with people that were too aggressive, both men and women.

Is it possible that she is, you know, actually too aggressive?

If it is valid feedback, pass it along. If it isn’t then don’t.

like

I have a male friend who is too aggressive. Who is to say she isn’t too aggressive?

like

Hahahhaa A1, edited my comment! Oops

This is really irrelevant to whether the woman is aggressive or not since we don't have enough information to come to that conclusion. But seeing the responses in this thread is so disheartening and it troubles me that so many of my colleagues seem to think terms like micro aggression are a joke, that women who are as assertive as their male counterparts being called aggressive or other negative terms is a non issue and their fault, that bringing to light workplace sexism is futile because sexism is apparently an issue of the 50s and no longer existent and anyone who points out disparity is grasping at straws..... There are certainly power structures at play here, and it largely benefits many of you who are ripping into OP. You'd be a shit consultant if you don't recognize it since it basically fuels your livelihood.

likefunny

It’s to look like a fool when spouting foolishness…

Let me clarify for those of you who still don’t get it. The difference is that men don’t typically get feedback that they are too aggressive, even when they are. Women often get feedback that they are too aggressive or assertive, when they are not exhibiting behaviors different than their male counterparts.

like

I understand the argument. I don’t buy it.

Is it possible in todays times to critique a woman and it NOT be sexist? This is the dynamic of consulting to a tee, clients pay a ton of money and they get to dictate the relationship. I have heard clients give much more vague and harsh criticism and have seen people moved off of engagements because the client didn’t like them. This is the business we are in. So my response to all of this is maybe her communication style is just too aggressive. One client may love it and the next may hate it, that’s the business.

likesmart

Am a man and I have received feedback that I was being aggressive in a meeting, just this year. They were right.

There’s a difference between decisive and aggressive, and both genders can cross an appropriate line.

Not a lawyer, but - side note that it’s scary that I’m seeing comments from employees from reputable firms essentially being accomplices to a first degree charge by encouraging pushing someone of a bridge, even if it’s metaphorically.

likefunny

Stupid take. Great job.

I’m a F 🐠 that had to tell an older woman on my team that we couldn’t just steamroll people to get the results we want. Sometimes it takes finesse/tact. It wasn’t the easiest conversation. We both learned from each other that day.

like

Ben Franklin bridge

funnylike

Specific and accessible. You’re the only person who provided OP the suggestion they sought. Well done 👏🏻

smart

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