Over the last few years, we have seemingly lost the art of dignity and decorum. National and global events wore us down. We had a lockdown. As masks hid our faces, we wore our exhaustion openly as a badge of honor. As we emerge from our pandemic fog, casual work attire has overtaken our lives and we fail to fully guard our words and actions. Circumstances have justified a shift in behavior that seeps into everyday life.
These days when I step into my heels, fix my hair, and enjoy the feel of lipstick after the two-year mask hiatus, my mood subtly shifts back into something I recall! I have more confidence. I feel my spine straightening, my chin elevating, and my shoulders pushing back as I face my next challenge. There is a tangible moment I own as I enter a tough discussion with facts in hand or deliver a well-prepared summation, as I envelop myself in the armor of embracing who I am. It is a powerful effect that I’ve missed.
I’ve come to the realization that it’s finally time for us to move forward – time to own our densities and reclaim dignified demeanor— both inwardly and outwardly – whatever that means to each of us – and no matter what detracts us from doing so. Whether it is, for example, debating “the slap” or being in awe of the inspiring courage of the Ukrainian people, we know awful things happen. Our reaction to them is what defines who we are, how we feel, and how we will be remembered.

Guard Your Tweets

My first piece of advice is to make your voice heard, yet carefully consider the tone of your words and the way you post and speak. It can be helpful to read – and re-read – our emails and Tweets before we hit send. Ask a friend or a mentor to help you develop a personal style for managing tough conversations. How you say something may define your trajectory up the business or philanthropic ladder.

Define Your Voices

I found it helpful to have my formal voice, my diplomatic voice, and the conversations I have with myself. My formal voice is the one with which I assert myself using two or three points that describe the actions that led us to a position. I use data to create understanding and provide solutions to solve problems.  My diplomatic voice acknowledges other people’s pain points and highlights why we can’t achieve their objectives, if we continue down our current path.  Finally, there is my conversation with just me. I justify my anger and give voice to my emotions. Then, I remind myself that now is not the time to have that conversation with others.  I write it down, say it to my dog or regale a friend, but I don’t say it out loud. I get it out, and I move on.

Embrace a Code of Professionalism

Tackle problems with diligence and steady determination. Honor your commitments even when circumstances are inconvenient. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will have the power.” Show respect to those with whom you work by keeping them informed of progress and challenges. Professional disagreements are not battles, nor are business decisions personal. Learn to manage in the moment. 

Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Actions

When I have a bad day, I do one nice thing for another person before I sleep. It may be as simple as “thumbs up” or a congratulatory comment on social media as a colleague announces a new job. I refer a friend to a new opportunity or send them an article about a topic of interest. When you shift your focus from being a critic to becoming a problem solver it makes you stronger.  

Make Graceful Exits

Even if you are unhappy, retain and maintain relationships.  Ghosting is never acceptable nor is leaving a job without providing adequate notice. Your work does not disappear. Someone will absorb it. Unfortunately, it may be another working mom or a peer you respect who ends up with late nights when you stop showing up. A well-managed exit allows for re-entry either at the same company or opens opportunities with colleagues who may end up someplace you want to go.  
Finally, never give up, and always keep your head held high.


Lisa Gable