• Kim F Vaughan

The power of silence and the resting bitch face

Updated: Jun 2

One of the advantages of being self-employed is the opportunity to catch radio programmes during the day. Today, I heard the amazing Tahmima Anam talking about the power of silence and the resting bitch face (RBF) in bringing equality to the workplace.

Yes, you read correctly.

We women have concluded that the office environment was not made for us. We are expected to use our empathy to make people feel comfortable, not to argue or be a killjoy in the face of sexist humour and behaviour, and to make sure we fit in. This is true of other minority groups too, not just women, by the way.

Tahmima is inviting us to use the power of silence, to be happy with our RBF, to stop smiling and trying to please everyone. And to make space in the workplace by not speaking at all.

She asks us to join the revolution, don our RBFs and join her in three simple changes to our behaviour:

STILLNESS - stop nodding along in meetings and giving clues to what we are thinking, make them ask for your opinion

SILENCE - stop trying to ease things along for others by jumping in with questions or laughing at stupid jokes

WAITING - count to three before responding; let the misogynistic or other inappropriate comments spoken reverberate in the silence and be heard fully for what they are

As a coach, I have long been aware of the power of silence and I am comfortable with this in the coaching environment. My RBF has been put to good use in the past with one old friend, sadly no longer with us, who joked about my RBF preceding the launch of a verbal ballistic missile when he made stupid remarks. So I know that these things work!

I can recommend listening to Tahmima Anam's TEDx talk - and to pick up the 1 June 2022 broadcast of Woman's Hour on the UK's BBC Sounds.

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