I once had a very interesting conversation with a high-powered female executive who was sharing what she called “tricks of the trade.”  She had a bunch of tips for us (I was with a group of young women professionals) about how to assert our authority and manage situations without seeming too “harsh” or “bossy” or “mean.”

Setting aside for the moment the (huge! looming! conversation-worthy, except I don’t have the time this morning to get into it!) question about the extent to which women feel the need to “soften” their approach in professional settings where men can be big bumbling rude jerkfaces and people will respect them for their “toughness,” there was one tip that I found particularly funny.  She said that she often takes off her watch and slips it into her bag before she goes into a room to run an important meeting.

“That way,” she said, “when I know that the conversation is going on too long and we have to move things along quicky, I can say ‘I’m sorry, I forgot my watch today, can someone tell me the time?’ And then when someone tells me, I can say ‘Oh goodness, it’s later than I thought, we’d really better move this along.'”

It never occured to me that the mere act of noting the time and trying to keep a meeting moving could be perceived as being “pushy,” but this woman SWORE by this trick.  “I could never do that, even if I thought it was useful,” I remember thinking at the time, “because I start to twitch and look reflexively at my wrist every 30 seconds when I’m not wearing a watch.”

Well today, like it or not, I get to test that trick.  Big meeting starting shortly, and my watch is hanging out contentedly on my dresser at home, where I forgot to put it back on after my shower this morning.  I’ll let you know how it works.

Am I the only one who gets nervous and twitchy when I forget my watch?  Please tell me I’m not the only one…

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