The House Judicial Committee’s Impeachment Hearings have a lot to teach professional women about how to navigate male-dominated workplaces. I want to clarify that this post is not about politics. It has no partisan slant. But what happened at the hearings give us a chance to watch techniques and approaches that can help all of us women.
Let me begin by noting that neither of the two principle women who have testified is young or strikingly beautiful. One in her 50s and the other in her 60s, both seem to accept the way the years have played out on their faces. There is an immediate sense of honesty in their looks that takes sex appeal and glamour off the table. No one can accuse them of using their looks to win the day. Instead it was their inner strength and integrity that shown through.
Of course I am speaking about Marie Yovanovitch, a veteran American diplomat and a senior member of the United States Foreign Service, and Fiona Hill, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council. I should add both left their positions before they testified.
Cool and Calm, Thoughtful and Modest: All Characteristics to be Admired Under Pressure
One immediate comparison is that both were eerily calm under immense pressure. They both took their time answering questions and never gave into being stampeded into a quick, emotional or emotion-driven answer. They carefully considered all questions whether friendly or hostile and gave complete thoughtful answers. And they were not ashamed to reveal the hurt and fear they both experienced in the course of their relationships with the President and his staff. In other words they were honest about their professional and personal experiences. They were fully human under a very bright and often indifferent spotlight.
They also began with well-plotted introductions which revealed not only their credentials, but their humble origins in modest even impoverished circumstances. However, they never used their humble origins or their significant achievements as a combative hammer through out the hearings, but rather as as relevant experience to put more veracity on their answers. Honesty and modesty seemed to be what guided their statements and answers.
Learn From the Best
What can we take from these two? The first is I think to depend upon what you believe and have in your heart rather than externals such as your looks or your cleverness. The second is that emotion must be used carefully and kept under control. Clearly both these women had endured a lot and were in circumstances that no one would relish. They had each effectively been very publicly fired and knew that their answers might be used to generate stories that didn’t match their own. They also knew that one false move could bring them down even further. They had a very narrow and precarious path to walk and from which they deviated at great professional and personal peril.
It’s fair to say that I admire these two very much. I found myself watching them in silent awe to see so much modest power in such unassuming packages. If you didn’t have a chance to watch the hearings live, watch recordings here: Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill. There is much to learn and much to admire.
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