Am I Going to Have to Be Fake to Survive Professionally?

Dear Nikki,

I’m about a year and a half into corporate America. I work in a predominately white space with older white people. I mostly try to stay out the way, keep my head down, and get my work done. My supervisors see that as being standoffish and as having a negative attitude. Am I gonna have to be fake in order to survive and be left alone to flourish professionally? What would you suggest in these situations. I’m so tired of the black girl with an attitude stereotype. I’m really just an introvert and prefer to get my work done and go home.


Atlanta, GA


Companies are now hiring for people that not only can get quality work done, but can also be a good cultural fit for the company, department etc.  

I completely understand your feelings of frustration. You're not really there to make friends. 

I think the key here and in all things is, you will always be faced with adversity.  People will always have their own perspectives on you. And their perspective is based on their experiences and history. Their initial opinions have nothing to do with you or your performance, so don't take that personally. 

It's all about how you react, that will create the environment for you and the future culture around you. Continue to do your job and do it well. I would suggest that you do take opportunities for socializing within your work space that can show that, even though you're an introvert, you have taken their feedback into consideration and are willing to share a little more of your self while you're at work. This can be little things, like small talk in the break room or getting involved in departmental activities.

Being more social doesn't mean you have to make friends or totally not be yourself. It simply means, be approachable. "Say it with a smile!"  This will not only change their perspective of you, but it will also help you too! You spend more time at work, than you do at home and even though you may not feel like you have a bad attitude, no one is going to keep smiling at you, if you're always frowned up... I say that to say, we don't always realize the energy that we project out into the world. Use this as an opportunity to check yourself and your own vibes. 

Negative feedback doesn't always have to be negative.  

Faking it ‘til you make it is a part of life. You'll do this several times over as long as you're working for someone else or dealing with people you don't want to deal with. I'm sure you've heard the term, put your big girl panties on! Well, this is that...

Don't sweat this. It will get better.

Nikki Davis

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Your curly girl manager, just trying to live her happiest life! 

Wife, new mom, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with 11 years industry experience, 6 years of management experience. Manager a team of men in a male dominant industry, while being the only woman on the team. DIY fashion blogger, a self taught seamstress. Owner/Creator of a monthly subscription service,

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