Seriously! Especially if you’re a woman running for political office. (Or even if you’re not a woman and not running…)
Sound counter-intuitive? Evidently, it’s not. In a recent front page story in the NY Times, by Kate Zernike, women who are running for office are encouraged to drop the old “I can out-guy any guy every time, just watch my dust” attitude that some of us adopted in the past, not only if we were running for political office, but it showed up in the front (and back) offices of corporations and even newsrooms.
I remember as if it were yesterday when my daughters, Kate and Abigail were tiny (and even as they grew up) being told by a guy slightly senior to me in a large corporation, “Gail, you talk too much about your children. You better cut it out or it’s gonna hurt your chances for promotion!” Not surprisingly, talking about them somehow made me feel a little bit better about being away from them – and like a person; not a robot. So I kept on doing it. (And somehow got promoted anyway…)
But according to the Times piece, those days of “don’t get personal” are pretty much over. In fact, a woman named Abby Finkenauer who’s running for Congress in Iowa actually uses the words “It’s Personal” as the tagline of her television ads.
Ms. Finkenauer, who’s twenty-nine, evidently said at one point, “This race is so dang personal to me!” with such gusto that the guys hanging out in work boots and T-shirts smiled and nodded encouragingly at her…
“Gone is the old playbook of women putting on a suit and a smile and reciting their resume,” Kate Zernike declares.They’re not running as “men” or “women,” they’re running as individuals…”something,” she says, “like the voters they’re trying to reach.”
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation which works to help elect more women, found that voters really want to know about a woman’s personal life – their hopes, their dreams, their win’s, their losses – what they’d stand for and what they’d
stand against, what they’ve leaned the hard way and what they’d go to the mat for…
Here’s the thing: As the Times piece points out, during the Trump era, the surge of women’s activism; their standing up for what they think is right, nevermind what’s “easily sold,” has produced a record number of women running for office and making their voices heard. And on the “trail” their “mixing their discussion of health care and tax policy with intimate stories of debt and divorce is riveting.” In other words, they are “revealing” themselves, and in the process, connecting with voters - both men and women.
Connecting seems to be the key.
It always has been. But it’s easy to forget – whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re running for political office or in the running for the job of your dreams, or on the lookout for the person. “Who are you really” is the question.
To truly connect with someone – anyone – you have to reveal yourself. To reveal yourself you have to let down the pretense and pull up the curtain; you have to say, “This is who I am at the heart of it; this is what moves me, what I’d go to the mat for…”
And yes, it would be really good to smile. But as Ms. Finkenauer (who, by the way, won a four-way primary in Iowa’s First congressional District with a commanding 67% of the vote) says, “Only if you want to.”
Or as I’m so fond of saying, “Just do you.”