#RealWorkTalk: Work vs. Job, Part I

Mar 27, 2019

Several years ago, I was passed over for a promotion.  I felt under-valued and under-appreciated.  I couldn’t understand how someone who did half the work I did, who spent most of the day at coffee meetings, who relied on others to do a significant portion of the job was selected over me.  Then, I had my eyes opened to how the other half lives.

When I met Kyle, he showed me that there is a difference between your job and your work.  He taught me that professional success is not just about being hard working and competent, it is also social and political.  And suddenly, I understood why I wasn’t promoted, what my colleague had that I didn’t.  He helped me see that I was too dismissive of those who excelled at the social parts of the job I struggled with.  So I asked him to write a few posts on the advice that I have found most valuable.

Meet Work vs. Job.  Take it away, Kyle.

Many people conflate your work with your job, but they are completely different things.

Your job is the daily tasks you are assigned to complete. Many people think checking theses boxes off in a timely manner is their only responsibility. Then, they wonder why someone (who they often deem less competent) is getting the promotion, or raise, or trip, or perk that they desired. That person likely got the desired benefit because they are better at work.

Work is all the tangible and intangible things that happen while people are performing their job.  Many people (like Abra) argue that “that stuff shouldn’t matter” and that “it’s about the work you produce.”  But in most workplaces, doing your job well is not enough.  So let’s talk about one intangible thing that every employee can benefit from: Managing your boss.

Managing your boss is one of the most important things that you can do on daily basis to advance your career. And chapter one of a multi-volume series on proper boss management is Only Good News Goes Up.

Nobody is saying that you shouldn’t escalate a major problem, that will get you fired.  But habitually relaying minor inconveniences or setbacks can have a devastating impact on your reputation and career.

Your boss pays you to handle setbacks; she doesn’t need to know about every single setback or hiccup.  Constantly bringing up negative developments makes you a Bad News Bear.

So what should you do instead?

Fix the problem.  Resolve the issue.  Mitigate the damage.  And then, once the storm has passed, work into a conversation how a setback happened and you resolved it.  This way your boss sees only sunny skies.

Also, on the flip side, all good news travels up.  You made the deal.  The opposition conceded.  The client is happy.  The bill passed.  Whatever it is, find an organic way to let them know about it.  Drop an e-mail.  Send a text.  Catch them at the water cooler.

Everyone like to hear good news.  Especially good news that they can then give to their boss.  (Never steal another person’s good news. It is more valuable to you to give them good news to deliver.)

Sharing good news also makes you a welcome sight anytime you’re knocking on an office door.  You want your boss to be glad to see you coming whenever possible.  “Oh, I was having a s**t day, but here’s Betty, she always has good news for me.”

Be a Good News Betty.  Bosses like Betty.

*Editor’s Note: I asked Kyle to write these posts because his perspective on career success is very different from mine.  His advice, even when I disagree with him, always makes me see things in a new way.  And I’ve discovered that having such a different perspective in my ear has helped me excel at the areas of professional success that do not come naturally to me.

Some readers have said that they don’t want to see career advice from a man on this blog.  I post Kyle’s perspective because I’ve never talked to anyone who thinks about work this way, male or female.  Incorporating his perspective into some of my career decisions has reaped benefits for me, and I hope it helps others who might need it.

#RealWorkTalk, Ask the Editor

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  1. jenny says:

    I think this is really solid advice. Sorry to toot my own horn, but I *am* good at “work,” as Kyle defines it, and it has helped me tremendously. In my very competitive industry, I am far from the most talented or the hardest working. But I don’t bother my boss with little stuff that I know I can handle. I get along with people. Consequently, I’ve consistently been given more responsibility, because I know people see me as someone who can get things done. I see WAY too many talented people in my office make the mistake of complaining to their bosses about their job duties. I can’t imagine anything more foolish than announcing to your own boss that you do not like/cannot handle the very duties listed in your job description. Bosses want to promote people they think will be successful, not people who they feel just want out of their current jobs.

    • Belle says:

      So jealous of anyone who is good at work. What tips would you give people that weren’t mentioned?

      • Jenny Rogers says:

        Hm, advice…know that socializing is 100 percent part of the job, and you should be chitchatting for a decent chunk of the day. Be yourself. This will vary by field, but try to turn a little personal passion/interest into a project at work — it makes you seem a little more interesting, and the work tends to stand out. Complain less. Send people emails when you like something they did. Be a good friend to your colleagues. (Sounds like you already know how to do that — that was such a sweet story you told about taking your new colleague to coffee.) Pitch big projects for yourself to work on. Don’t be afraid of anyone at the company; you’re all professionals. Listen to advice, but make it work for you (including all of this advice).

  2. Carrie says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I gotta say, this post rubbed me the wrong way. The world does not need another man telling woman they aren’t working properly. His advice is fine but I don’t come here to hear Kyle Mansplain work issues to me.

    • Belle says:

      So if I had just put my name on this post, it would be totally fine? Is that really fair?

      All career advice, regardless of the source, is based on the idea that we don’t have all the answers, and that other perspectives have value. Whether you agree or not, it’s something to consider. I’ve learned a lot from Kyle about how to be better at the “work” portion of my career. I thought I would ask him to write up some of the things I’ve found valuable, because I think many women focus on the job part and not the other aspects. Advice doesn’t become mansplaining just because it comes from a man.

      • Christine says:

        I agree with Belle. This is solid advice. It’s not offensive simply because it originated with a male human.

        • Joan says:


          This is hugely helpful advice. Who cares if it is coming from a dude. In some ways, it is way more valuable as it peels back the curtain on what is going on sometimes in promotion decisions.

          The goal is to get more women in power. This is a great perspective on how to do just that.

          Also, as someone in a managerial role in a consulting firm, this struck a chord with me. I think those of use most resistant to Kyle’s points are likely those who can benefit from it the most.

          Thanks Abra and thanks Kyle!

          • Belle says:

            Oh I definitely told him he was an idiot the first time we had his conversation. I think I told him that this kind of thing might fly in his industry (tech) but would NEVER occur in mine.

            Then, one day, I was talking about how I’d been passed over for this promotion and it had scarred me. And he was like, “Okay, let’s break down her actions from my perspective if I was the boss. 1) the work always got done, even if you were the one doing it, I didn’t know that, I just knew it got done. 2) She had enough connections and contacts to be at “coffee” all the time networking with people who were valuable to the office, and was good enough at her job she had the time to do that and still get work done. And 3) she was always light and breezy and happy, I didn’t know it was because you’d absorbed half her work and her stress.”

            I just remember standing in the kitchen thinking, “F my life.” I then had to go on a walk so I could process this information.

            • Anna says:

              Ugh, this situation so describes me. I’ve had a few coworkers who were good at the “work” while the rest of us did the “job.” In a lot of cases, though not always, it was guys who were better at work. I remember there were a few guys who worked in press who seemed to hardly do anything but shmooze while they passed off their work to other people (and never shied away from taking credit) while a lot of the women I know did all of it and when they did delegate, did so in more of a “mentoring” kind of way and made sure the subordinates got credit.

              • Naomi says:

                Yes! I think it’s so important to keep in mind that the ability to succeed at work, in this context, could be tied to your gender. I work in a male dominated field, and in one of my last offices, I was better at the job, but never felt the potential for advancement. A male in the office seemed better at the “work.” BUT, part of that was a connection to the old boy’s network. He was able to navigate the culture better than I was, because he was tapped into it in a way that I wasn’t. It’s hard to be the best at the work side when you’re not on a level playingfield.

            • Kathleen says:

              Oh I’ve been there. I come home and tell my husband I’ve had a bad day. He starts analysing why the bad day was all my fault. Yes, it may all be useful information but how about some sympathy before you start in on the constructive criticism!

              Overall I think this is a very useful topic for you to have raised. I also struggle with my good work going under the radar, and it’s interesting to hear a range of opinions about it.

              • Belle says:

                Kyle will sometimes ask, “Is this a problem you want me to help solve or just be understanding about?” He prefers to help fix it, sometimes I don’t want or need his help, just his support.

            • Diane says:

              What was Kyle’s solution for your coworker getting “credit” for you absorbing half of your her work and stress? How does a “do-er” assure they get credit for making sure others’ work gets done?

            • K says:

              Belle, would you add your anecdote to the post above? I think it enriches Kyle’s message to show how it applied to a real life situation.

    • Jodi says:

      I felt the same way as Carrie. And this is the second post Kyle has written that I think completely missed the mark.

      • Belle says:

        I asked him to write this post because this is advice I wish someone had given me when I was 24. My mentors all talked to me about doing a good job and working hard, and the importance of being seen working hard. No one until Kyle ever said, “You know that’s half your job, right?”

        Tell me how the point of the post — to advise women like me, who could do this one thing better and improve their careers — misses the mark? What did he not talk about that would have helped? What did he say specifically that shouldn’t have been included? Tell me how to make these better, because I would genuinely like to know. I have had a lot of wonderful career mentors who have taught me a lot, but I have never had one, except Kyle, who has explained the parts of career success that I didn’t naturally understand or excel at. And I’m sure I’m not the only person in the same boat.

        • RR says:

          I wasn’t as put off as some others, but I agree it’s off putting. I think if you wrote the post by telling us what you’ve learned from Kyle, that would be a better feel for me. Having him tell us bugs me in some way. Trying to put it into words, I think that what grates is that women do tend to be the ones who put their heads down and get things done, which is extremely important. Kyle’s advice is typical of a man and a lot of the reason that mediocre men can rise through the ranks–because their (often male) bosses like them better. He’s trying to give it reason while ignoring the gender bias aspect (in part because he has no real experience with the gender bias of it). Kyle seems great, but I guess, yeah, it feels like mansplaining because it ignores all the other issues that we know are at play that he wouldn’t even see while he was patting himself on the back for being good at “work.”

          • jj says:

            yeah, the advice seems well intentioned but you articulated why even well-intentioned advice from men to women about the workplace just seems…off

          • Belle says:

            This is helpful. I get how me writing the post from my perspective may have helped. My thinking was I wanted to go straight to the source. Drink directly from the tap, if you will.

            For me, I was definitely one of those put your head down and get things done women. And as a result, over the course of my career, I saw people of both genders who were better at the social and political part of their career get the benefits I had hoped for because they had deeper personal relationships with the bosses. So I guess I didn’t consider the gender bias piece as much as I should have. It was my hope that competent women could use the tools from the “mediocre man” toolkit to rocket past our “less-deserving” counterparts of both genders.

            • TheLOOP says:

              Actually I would have LOVED to hear from your perspective – what tools from Kyle’s toolkit worked for you? What didn’t work? What did you have to adapt? Do they have the same success when used by someone for whom this stuff doesn’t come naturally? Your intentions were on point and regardless of how it started, this is such a good discussion to have.

              I have never been a “put your head down and work” kind of person. Some other tips that have worked for me – in meetings, don’t always be the note-taker. And don’t get so absorbed in taking notes that you don’t contribute meaningfully. When you contribute, don’t just ask good questions. That’s a good starting point but go beyond and contribute ideas and solutions. Do so firmly, not tentatively. And do so in a way that the key people in the room (managers, clients whoever) see their own ideas reflected or at least echoed in yours. Be at the table – literally. If you walk into a room and there are not enough seats at the table, don’t sit on the sides. Unless you are the junior-most person in the room… too many women relegate themselves to the secretarial role (taking notes, not at the table, not speaking) when they shouldn’t be. Outside of meetings, build your “‘team.” These are people with whom you may have no managerial relationships – the junior team members who don’t report to you, peers from other departments, managers not in your chain. Make sure they see you as someone who gives sound advice that’s in their best interest. Set aside a certain number of hours for relationship building. You can use some of those to meet with new people but also use them to meet with the same key people regularly – in your organization or outside. A mentor taught me that all these activities – relationships you build, information you gather, contributions you make – help you amass power… that you can use later to further your career. YMMV depending on your industry/role of course.

              • Prague says:

                I’d like to hear *both* perspectives. Kyle for his recommendations. Belle for what worked and what didn’t for her.

                No advice is perfect or should be implemented 100% of the time for every person in every situation. That’s how advice works. You take something that’s a great idea, you ignore something else that won’t work, you try something and it fails, you try something and it doesn’t. Sometimes you try something you know won’t work and it does.

                I’d love to hear more of this, and have it start a real discussion that prompts more suggestions and career advice in the comments.

                I didn’t think this mansplained at all. Not only was Kyle writing because Belle asked him to do so, but this advice is applicable to men *and* women both.

          • e says:

            This is really well said, RR. Maybe a #RealWorkTalk section where you ask women what the best career advice they’ve gotten was would be a good idea! Hearing from Abra on how why Kyle’s advice was so impactful for her and how she incorporated it into her work would be really interesting to me. Echoing what some other commenters have said, on sites like this that are tailored to a female-audience, I do look for some acknowledgment that we have a different lived experience, professionally, than our male counterparts.

            • Belle says:

              Agreed, I think it was a good suggestion. I think this is what I’ll do in future.

              • Sarah says:

                How about both? Kyle’s take and then your response and what has worked for you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with career advice from a man on this blog. The most important is good advice that is actionable for the women reading it. I think both of your takes (in detail) is the most useful.

        • TheLOOP says:

          What’s missing from his advice is that sometimes you can become so good at “managing your boss” that you become indispensable in that role and get passed over for promotions because your boss has come to rely on you and doesn’t want to lose you. There is such a thing as being too positive for your own good. I have seen plenty of incompetent but “loud” people get promotions they don’t deserve – because they make sure everyone around them hears how much better that new role would be for them; they don’t just manage work but also balance their time in building relationships outside of work – something that is fraught with risks for women. Kyle may not think twice about grabbing a beer with a make boss but a woman might, depending on whether doing so might be misconstrued. Career growth has many steps – this post talks about one of them but ignores the other where gender dynamics do come into play.

          • Melissa says:

            I think someone may have covered this in a comment, but maybe incorporate a follow-up post about how to navigate the gender dynamics of Kyle’s advice (which, btw, it is very helpful and I am very much “pro-Kyle” content.)

        • Jodi says:


          It appears you changed the last paragraph from when I first read it but it said something like “be a Betty, everyone likes Betty.” I found that, in particular, condescending. Also, as someone who has a high stress, crises management related job, sometimes you have to bring problems to your boss. This is just the way it is. There was also no acknowledgement that what works for some person might not work for every person.

          • Belle says:

            I think, as a rule, people understand that some advice may work for them and some advice won’t. I don’t feel the need to put on a disclaimer to let people know their mileage may vary. I read plenty of advice pieces that just don’t apply to me. I don’t worry if there’s not an acknowledgement that may needs may not be met.

            • Amanda says:

              I threw a little shade at the last Kyle post but honestly I liked this one and I appreciate you finding ways to include him that make the readers happy. The best career advice and mentoring I have received was from two men and kyles take is very similar. Essentially it was: Get your ass out there and meet the people. It sucks sometimes and it might mean you need to work later occasionally. Maybe you feel awkward, sweaty and maybe you find that person hard to talk to, but do it. You have to. Look them in the eye and don’t be afraid. Take credit where you earned it and show pride and enthusiasm with what you do. Never be afraid of a more senior person at the company. You can be respectful, but never afraid. Get in there and shake their hand, even if it means delaying the meeting an extra 5 seconds to introduce yourself in front of a room full of people. It’s terrifying but it gets easier and the more you do it, the more organic it feels. They never said it to me, but I know the message was clear: “they” will pass you up if you don’t stand big and tall in their face smiling, ready to say ‘hi, I am someone you should know’.

              • Belle says:

                It is terrifying. Why is it terrifying? It’s one of those situations where you’re just like, why can’t I do this?!?

              • Belle says:

                I thought about that post later, and it was more…judgy might be the word I’m looking for…than either of us intended. The original emailer found it valuable, which I was glad about. But I think if I had read it through one more time, I would have edited some of it. Glad you liked this one.

    • Maria says:

      I really don’t think this qualifies as mansplaining. It’s not like Kyle said “you women are bad at understanding work. Gather round and let the man tell you how it’s really done.” This is valuable advice. It helped Abra. Are we now not taking advice from men just because they are men?

      This, on the other hand, is proper mansplaining:

    • Sam says:

      Being a feminist relies on having an open mind, ear and eye toward your resources regardless of their gender. This advice is highly relatable from and for anyone experiencing it.

      • KTA says:

        Kyle is not an expert. That’s another reason this reads as mainsplaining. Not only is it a man telling Abra/a largely female readership how to do their job, but why on earth would I want or need to hear this from Kyle? Why not bring in an expert for a guest post, man or woman?

        • Belle says:

          I don’t usually find “expert” career advice that helpful. Some of the sites do a good job, but a lot of them write flat, clinical posts. And if I had gotten this advice from a non-expert woman, no one would be asking for me to go get it from an expert woman.

    • Alli says:

      I think it’s unfair that any time a person, who happens to be a man, explains a thing, it’s called “mansplaining.” Sure, that’s the literal, black-and-white definition. To me, “mansplaining” as a toxic phenomenon is when a man explains something to a woman because *he thinks the woman cannot understand simple tasks or that by nature of being a man, he can do it better*. Much like you state, Belle, I prefer hearing all perspectives, regardless of the person’s gender or sexual organs at birth. It’s taken me a long time to realize that while I’m good at my job(s), I have not always been great at work. Thank you for being open-minded and offering a differing point-of-view on your blog.

  3. aar1 says:

    I do actually mean this as a compliment: this post gives me more anxiety than just about anything I’ve ever read on a blog. It’s wholly not something I’m good at; and being made aware of this is probably helpful. thanks!

    • Belle says:

      I’m not good at it either. And I can’t tell you the anxiety I have about it also. I watch the easy camaraderie some of my colleagues have with our bosses and I am super envious. It looks so easy for them. It’s never been easy for me.

      How important these “intangibles” are probably varies from office to office, but knowing that I should try to do more has been helpful. I like having a “work buddy” who is more fun than me. It helps to not be in it alone.

      • Monica says:

        So much this. I’ve never had a boss that I’ve really “clicked” with, and I’ve always wondered how to get those skills. If you find any helpful sites or tips, I hope you pass them along!

  4. Jj says:

    I know this is a career-woman oriented blog but there is also something to be said about life satisfaction outside of work/job. It took me 40+ years to finally realize that the most important things in my life weren’t coming from my career and that climbing the ladder was no where near as important as time for oneself

  5. Cait says:

    Building on the don’t credit for other people’s work line… I think it’s important to say “Thank you” when someone goes above and beyond. So instead of just saying thanks to the person, send an email to their manager, with the person cc’ed, highlighting what they did and how it was helpful to you/why you especially appreciate it.

    This is especially big in companies where employees are virtual and it is harder to be “seen” doing a good job. Most people want to work with someone who acknowledges other people’s good work.

  6. L says:

    I would also add managing sideways. By that I mean I don’t have anyone directly reporting to me but there are lower level staff on my team and on other teams we work with frequently. To the extent I can manage them and their relationship to the team, I do. Failure to communicate between the teams? Be the conduit. Boss micromanaging? Work together to anticipate and solve what the boss will try to micromanage. Be the open door for advice for new coworkers, too.

    • Belle says:

      I’ve found that providing a sounding board for new people or younger people has been very valuable to me in my current job. It doesn’t take much time and it creates allies very quickly. In a past job, I took a new hire to coffee on her second day, and two years later when she left, she still remembered that and told my boss that it was the most helpful thing anyone did for her when she was new. And I had no idea the kind of impact that one small gesture to someone new could have.

  7. Michelle says:

    Critical-but not mentioned here-is manage to *your* specific boss. For example, my last boss wanted to know about small problems because she knew how to navigate our agency better than anyone and needed to keep agency head in the loop on all-the-things. She also didn’t like bragging, so you had to do it in a different way that didn’t seem like bragging at all. She got promoted after two years, and pulled me into her old role. How I managed to her was completely different from a previous boss who didn’t want to know anything EVER except to take credit for the final project (which was great because I just made sure to give him lots to brag about). So the advice really is manage your boss and be political—but the what and how all depends on your individual boss.

    • Belle says:

      Okay, so how did you assess what would motivate your specific boss? I struggle with that.

      • L says:

        I think this is trial and error. I get along fabulously with my current boss, but I felt micromanaged for the whole first year. It’s just his style–I had to prove that I did the job part to his standards first. (Thec”work” part was me bonding with his then-assistant and working well as a team with her.) To his credit, he gave great, constructive feedback that whole time, allowing me to put the puzzle together of what he needs eyes on vs what I can handle.Now we work so well together we are a model for the office.

        Does your supervisor do a weekly check in meeting with you? These are a great way to tell your successes and get guidance. I go in with a plan of what I’m working on and how to tackle snags. He gives input where he thinks its needed–that feedback always lines up with what he likes to manage in a hands on way.

        • Emily G says:

          I’d echo this and add one key point: ask. My current boss likes to know everything and my previous boss cares zero percent about nitty gritty issues. In one of our first check in meetings I asked about her preferences and have adjusted over time based on what she said and did. If I was writing this post, I wouldn’t focus on good news, but tailoring your approach and style to your boss.

          • Belle says:

            I think you ladies are absolutely correct to tailor your approach to your bosses likes and wants. In Kyle’s case, he has a boss who manages a lot of people and his success is very dependent on their work. So that would likely shape the advice. It’s a little tougher in my job to only go up with good news because my boss needs progress reports on a lot of ongoing work. But I have taken this advice to heart with how I describe challenges or issues. I try not to bring them up until I have a solution or until I can show some progress toward a resolution.

  8. TheLOOP says:

    Belle, I love you but I agree with the poster above. We really don’t need a man explaining to women how to succeed at work. I stayed quiet when he advised women on how to dress at home but this is getting a bit much. At the risk of an exaggerating, it’s like a white person advising a black person on how to de-escalate a tense confrontation with cops. Not that the former has nothing to share but that their experience differs greatly based on their identity. Just because this was true in your case doesn’t mean that universally, women do jobs and men do work. You have access to a wide network of successful women. Why not ask them to pen a guest post? And don’t get me wrong, I am glad his advice helped you. It’s great to have a partner who can be your team and your cheerleader. I do too. But even for “women like you” as you say, it might be more helpful to hear from other women like them who cracked the code of succeeding at work.

    • RR says:

      Agree with this. It’s like, “This is what I do when I’m pulled over by the cops, and I’ve never had a bad situation.” Well, yeah, but…….

      It feels like a major failure to read the room.

      • Dee says:

        Regular reader and commenter, and I come here for “Belle” being herself and the old girls’ club camraderie, not for the sweetheart’s advice. I understand this post was Belle-edited and Belle-approved, but I’m not just that into Kyle, no matter what, just my $.02

        • Belle says:

          “I’m just not that into Kyle…” I just spit pickle all over my computer. Loved it. I’ll keep his advice to the gift guides then, unless I’m filtering it through my experience.

  9. Grateful says:

    This is such a great post! I needed to hear this. Thank you!

    (And, for the record, I don’t think it’s mansplaining at all? You asked someone who has given you enlightened advice in the past to share their opinion with the group, which they did quite effectively and without condescension. The gender of all involved parties seems entirely irrelevant.)

  10. Nicole K says:

    First time commenting because I want to reiterate the positive comments. I thought Kyle did a great job offering his perspective on a workplace issue that is not quite transparent. I appreciate his occasional input on your blog – don’t be deterred! I find it to be very beneficial. Thanks!

  11. Chelsea says:

    Thanks, Belle. I look forward to reading more. I find this very helpful and have seen such instances in my own career, as well as my husbands. If I can only consider advice from other white women who have kids and a career (my own status) then I’m not learning nearly enough.

    • Evie says:

      Agreed! Being a woman doesn’t mean that I should be limited to seeking career advice from other women. And if Abra got good advice from a man, she should not have to search for a woman who can say the same things that Kyle did. Even if she had put everything into her own words, I’m sure there’d be dissenters here. How dare she listen to her partner and value his advice? The horror.

      • Belle says:

        Let’s not go as far as saying I value his advice. I don’t need his ego getting any bigger, our house has low ceilings.

  12. Sarah says:

    Kyle hit the nail on the head here. Work is holistic; it’s not just excellent performance of your duties, but includes your temperament, the way you approach various work scenarios, your collegiality, etc. I also don’t want to toot my own horn, but this is the best example I could pull from my experience:

    I worked with someone who worked hard, but that was the extent of it. He did what he was told, did it well…and that was it. He never sought out other opportunities, never innovated, never walked around to meet people from different offices, and always had an eye roll or sigh for every task. I also worked hard and did what I was told, but I made an effort to talk to as many people as possible and establish relationships. I primarily did that because I’m an extrovert who loves to chat, but I soon realized that such relationships are a real commodity to you and your organization. I got SO many opportunities because of those relationships. And nothing feels better than being asked a question and saying, “hey, I don’t know that, but I know someone who does!” Anyway, when it came to promotion time, I got it and he didn’t.

    All that to say, work can’t happen without people. Get to know your people, their products, and their passions. Become a trusted agent to them. It pays off. 🙂

    • Belle says:

      I think we all naturally fall into our comfort zones. Mine is work. For others it’s relationships. And for me, I just wanted to believe that the work was the most important thing. Once I used Kyle’s perspective to dissect some of the big challenges of my career, it broke down my desire to think about work as primarily job functions.

  13. MOnica T says:

    This is helpful and I think highlights some of the exact things that I do that set me apart from a technical worker who just does the job. They could be a BILLION times smarter than me and if they can’t explain what they’re doing or what the problem is to a non-technical worker it just doesn’t work the same. Our innate talent or dogged hard work does not exist in a vacuum. I don’t even see this as gaming the system, it doesn’t have to be seen as some long con. It’s the soft skills that every career article tells you about.

    That said, if you would have taken this same information from a woman as helpful but are offended when it’s coming from a man, you might need to examine your own bias. Kyle has a wry wit and it obviously rubs some people the wrong way, but hearing differing perspectives is important to our own growth.

    • RR says:

      I guess, for my part, I don’t find the advice helpful. I’m nearly two decades into my career. I’ve been “Betty” and not gotten ahead. And, I’ve had no choice but to be the person who raised issues because at some point we have an obligation to do so. Kyle’s advice is scratching the surface of an incredibly nuanced issue for women, and he utterly lacks the life experience to address that nuance. I would find the advice helpful coming from a woman who could incorporate that nuance. There’s a kernel of a good idea there, yes, but it’s not presented through the lens of how a woman would implement it, and for a woman to successfully implement it, it would have to be modified.

      I do think this has been an great discussion though. I adore Belle, and I appreciate her response to concerns on this.

  14. Denise says:

    For those of you ladies who are commenting that you’re not ‘good at’ the ‘work’ side of your job, or that it gives you anxiety to think about it…I will say the good thing is that this is a skill set that can be learned. It takes skill but its not rocket science. I am an engineer by training and dealt for the first part of my career with facts and figures only. Once I got into sales and then into management, I really had to work on this within myself. I’ve been very successful but was also recently passed over for a promotion (I’m 42 and a woman in a male dominated field…it happens…), but have taken steps now again to make sure the next promotion is mine.

    My advice – start small. Change your behaviors in one or two areas at a time, to build confidence. For me, this involved asking questions in manager’s meetings (i’m intimidated in a room full of managers, 95% of whom are male). I found that taking notes during presentations and really focusing on asking intelligent questions helped me through it, and now it is easier for me even though its still outside of my comfort zone.

    One area where I will say I’ve recently broken the ‘no bad news up’ rule is when a male colleague was attempting to disparage my character. I contact the colleague directly and told him, in summary, to keep my name out of his mouth. And then I took this concern to my boss, not to ask for him to intervene but rather to have my side of the story in case my ‘handling the situation’ got back to him. Because i’m not going to put up with that, as women we should NOT be putting up with that nonsense, and men would not either.

    Keep working ladies! Seek female mentorship – it helps!

    • Belle says:

      I don’t think that’s bringing bad news up. I think that’s making sure a narrative isn’t created unchallenged. I hope it worked out for you.

      • Denise says:

        So far so good. I think it helped that I told him I didn’t need anything from him (my boss), and that I thought I had handled it sufficiently, and I didn’t really want him to bring it up to anyone directly. Made it seem less like sh*t stirring. And not surprisingly, rude coworker has done this to other women in the past, so it is on management’s radar screen. Further proof that you don’t get ahead by putting others down. He is digging his own grave, I’m not going to help him but he’s not taking me down with him!

  15. Laurel says:

    So at first I didn’t understand the post-script on this post about readers complaining about a man giving this advice. Perhaps because I’ve been reading for so long and follow you on social media, I feel like I “know” Kyle (which I realize sounds silly, but here we are), this did not rub me the wrong way. I feel like there are great points made, and something I’d never thought about. So, regardless of the gender of the advice-giver, I appreciate this insight!

  16. Danielle says:

    Really well-intended, and I’m not going to get into the dialogue on whether or not it was mansplaining, but I think you’d have to tweak a lot of it for someone with less than 10 years of experience.

    In my experience the only thing people hate more than problems are surprise problems. I’ve been really successful by keeping my bosses informed (to varying degrees – I go 2-3 levels up in my job, and don’t bring the same things to my tier 3 boss that I would to the one directly above me), even if it means discussing problems/challenges. When you do have a problem bring a solution to recommend with it. They can take it or not, but at least you’re giving them an option to use instead of asking them to tell you how to fix it. As noted in another comment, this is all really dependent on your boss’s personality and your organization’s environment.

    Managing up comes with time and skill. I think the biggest way to be valuable to your boss and grow at the same time, especially early on, is to be trustworthy and consistent and always follow through on things. This applies to daily tasks but also the larger context of your organization and field. Think just as much about what’s going on in those areas and the impact it could have on your team (big or small), and use that to improve your team’s work when you can.

  17. Claudia says:

    This is a terrific post. A position description or daily task list is only the start. It took me a long time to understand this perspective has helped me a lot.

  18. Maria says:

    Thanks to Belle and Kyle for sharing what for me would be a dream conversation with my partner. (I don’t take correction or criticism from my partner well, and thus, I rarely seek it. I can be particularly cold when it’s offered unsolicited. But that’s my own issue.)

    Kyle is sharing some very solid advice, and it’s good advice even if it’s not packaged and delivered by a well-dressed, working, professional woman. I really appreciate his “tough love” or merely frank approach. I also appreciate Belle’s honesty in saying she asked for the advice, heard it, and then walked out of the room… because sometimes good advice is a horse pill to swallow. That would be my response as well – to get the hell out of there and think about it on my own while my eyes smart with tears. And sometimes, good advice may be fantastic but you know you have to tweak it to make it “you.” Kyle’s advice rings that way for me, as does his delivery. I appreciate that he didn’t try to soften it, and personally, I find his snark funny and wry.

    Anecdotally, I am also good at the “work” part of being a lawyer. I’m not the most brilliant, or most talented, but I’m the person everyone wants on their team because I don’t freak out under stress (I save that for home…) and I keep a good sense of humor. As for some additional advice not mentioned, I will say that treating the shareholders as my clients has helped me tremendously: they are a consistent, near-guaranteed source of work and so I treat them well, I remember the name of their spouses or dog, or the place they last traveled to so I can ask about it… in other words, I care and communicate with soft social skills. This is a sister trait, in my opinion, to the “manage your boss” advice – that you should market to your boss and treat them like the client you don’t want to lose. Taking ownership of each of those partner relationships rather than waiting for them to give me marching orders has advanced my career tremendously. It has also saved me from a well-deserved negative annual review: that while I had a couple bad months (explainable but still bad), the firm was committed to working with me and wanted to reiterate how much support I had from the shareholders.

  19. Asiah says:

    Hi Belle,
    Longtime reader (like back when you were still on the Hill) occasional commenter. I really liked this post. I think that sometimes we can think we’re doing everything right or everything that we’re supposed to do and it’s so eye-opening when someone, whether a friend or partner, comes along and shows us how the other half are doing it. I’m glad that you got him to share his perspective on this. I’m in a phd program so this doesn’t exactly translate to my life, but I’m definitely going to think about how to “work” in academia. Would definitely love to hear more about what you’ve learned from him and the advice that he’s given you.

    I also appreciate the dynamic that you and Kyle show on the blog. I like that he doesn’t seem to be an instagram boyfriend, but still supports this space and shows up in it sometimes. I’ve also liked the other guest posts he’s done about gifts for men. I don’t agree with the other posters who are saying that this feels like he just showed up and mansplained. This just feels like any other guest post that you might share from someone who inspired a change in your way of thinking. I’d love to see more of this content if you decide to share it.

  20. JBINDC says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for continuing to think outside the box on what women might like to read/learn about (besides office fashion, which is what we primarily love!). I also like Kyle’s wit, I find it similar to yours, and I appreciate his insights.
    In my partnership, I’ve been the one trying to convince my husband that sometimes you have to pay attention to office politics (if not play/utilize them) in order to succeed at work, even if you find it distasteful/annoying/whatever. Like you, he also tends to think doing the work well is good enough, and typically only pays attention to what his direct boss thinks, instead of his entire leadership chain. So it’s not necessarily just a gendered issue – it’s a personality thing too! Thanks again!

  21. Sara says:

    This was an awesome, valuable post. Hearing helpful info from a man doesn’t make you a bad feminist 🙂

    • Katie says:

      … but having worked for (and defending) the NRA sure as hell does!

      • Belle says:

        I worked there. At the time I took the job, I believed in the organization. I don’t work there any more, by choice. I do not defend their leadership, or the divisive spokespeople who are actually ad-agency employed hacks, or their statements and actions.

        And if you feel so strongly about it that you want to use it to tear me down six years after I quit, then I don’t understand why you’re still reading here.

        • Margaret says:

          And taken the time to scroll through all the 90+ comments just to say something nasty! Haters gonna hate, trolls gonna troll.

      • Anna says:

        Wait, what? I vehemently dislike the NRA but don’t see how that has anything to do with Abra being a feminist. Pretty sure her actions and advocacy over many years, both during and after her time in that job, have made it abundantly clear that she is one.

  22. MK says:

    As someone who has a difficult time with some of the “work” things, I found this interesting. I’d be interested to hear more of Kyle’s perspective, but especially your perspective on Kyle’s perspective. What you adopted, what worked for you, what you tweaked, etc.

  23. Megan M says:

    I am a long-time reader and very infrequent commenter, but I had to chime in to add that I was laid off from a company I helped build because of my inability to navigate the boys club b/s of my “work.” Reading this insight, regardless of who delivered it, was incredibly helpful because it so clearly articulated what I could never bring words to.

    I understand some people not wanting to hear this sort of thing directly from Kyle, but I’m taking a “don’t shoot the messenger” attitude here. Keep this dialogue going, but make it from you directly, Abra if that makes it easier for folks to react to. Thanks for starting this conversation!

    • Kelly says:

      I got laid off under what I suspect are similar circumstances to yours. Having someone say this to me a few years ago would have been IMMEASURABLY more helpful than my boss ad-libbing at the end of my review that my coworkers “found me cold”. (At least that’s what I think she was going for, she didn’t quite get to the end of that sentence.) I had some pretty major insomnia/anxiety/depression that year, so what my coworkers may or may not have thought of me was one of the last things on my mind as I struggled through a lot of days that year.

      And I too get the messenger backlash. Honestly, if I were hearing this 1-2 years ago as I was working so hard and watching all (seriously, all) of my male peers get promoted (repeatedly), I might have been part of it. But having landed in a place where I am much less stressed and people are much more kind, I have a healthier perspective. Bashing Kyle or his perspective on work isn’t going to move anyone forward. But companies/departments/managers who aren’t reaching out to or even acknowledging women aren’t getting ahead are holding people back.

  24. Kelly says:

    First, big props to Kyle for not calling the hypothetical boss a “he.” That did not just slip under the radar for this feminist.

    I think an important part of this conversation has to do with emotional labor. I also pride myself on being great at the “work” and not just the job. But women especially have to be vigilant about not being pigeonholed into the emotional labor of the office, i.e. coordinating happy hours, circulating the birthday card, being the office cheerleader. Maybe there’s a separate discussion here about separating the “work” from what’s unpaid and usually unrecognized: organizing and managing—especially when it’s performed by women.

  25. Kay says:

    I really appreciate this post. I am a longtime reader and not offended in the least that this is from Kyle. If there are other women (maybe readers?) with a take on this kind of stuff, I’d appreciate their views just as much.

    I’ve been able to advance in my career but I’m good at my job, awkward at work. I default to the more administrative skills, my comfort zone – even though I’m in a professional role. I have confidence issues around networking and highlighting my successes, talking about myself and my accomplishments. I can clearly see right now that I’m going to need to get over this to continue to move forward in my career.

    Please keep this conversation/series of posts going – most useful content I’ve come across on the web in some time – exactly what I need to be reading/considering right now. Also appreciate the perspectives from the commenters that disagree – glad for everyone’s take on this, whether it’s in line with mine or not.

    • Marie says:

      Oh! This is me! I always default to administrative tasks, even though I’m well beyond that now (and frankly, those tasks aren’t even my strength, they’re just my comfort zone).

      I found this piece incredibly useful, and a bit of a wake-up call.

      • Belle says:

        I used to be the first one to put a hand up to take notes or coordinate tasks. I’ve learned to either keep my hand down, or suggest others to do it, or suggest that I team up with others to do it. I’m good at administrative things, but I don’t want to be pigeon-holed.

  26. Lauren says:

    Wow, just what I needed to hear and feel strongly that I would like to hear more about this in the future. I 100% understand the issues posted about, such as tailoring it to your own experience. So often I never think about my elevator speech when it comes to my day to day work.

  27. sarah says:

    Abra, I loved having Kyle’s perspective. We all work with men, and not in bubbles, and his advice is valuable, as is yours. Don’t stress about the comments from people who don’t think this is valuable, this is closed minded thinking.

  28. Suzanne says:

    I am disappointed in the response to this post. I think it is very reflective of the state of discourse today-overly focused on the messenger rather than the message. When you are resistant to listening to an opinion because it comes from a man, you’ve missed the entire point of feminism.

    • Belle says:

      I get what people are saying about this being a male perspective that lacks a take on many of the struggles women have. Looking back on it, I think that might be valuable for some women. I know how I think about my workplace. I know how I think about the work I do. I have some insight into how my female coworkers feel about the same. But I don’t have a good look at how my male coworkers see these things. And while, yes, some of this will inevitably be easier for him because he’s a guy, it was kind of interesting the first time we talked about it to see this from a male perspective, because I’m surrounded by men all the time.

  29. Stephanie says:

    Just chiming in to say while I HATE the advice, he’s absolutely right, and it’s something I wish I had known before. It’s also important to note that this advice is much more important in traditionally corporate environments where everything is corporate-speak, strategy, branding, etc. My company didn’t used to be like that, but now it is, and my boss, who is our General Counsel, has risen in importance. Along with that, she developed this total aversion to just talking through issues and griping together about the bad stuff. She only wants to hear shiny happy– the minute I start to fret about something or even express a concern, she basically gives me “feedback” that I need to be a problem solver and just accept the reality of the ways things are instead of trying to change them or worry. It kind of sucks because it’s all really superficial, but there you go.

  30. Pam says:

    I don’t mind/am happy to hear a man’s perspective – because hey – there are men in the workplace! And we have to interact with them, and no matter your gender you can learn something from others. This is a similar message I give those I mentor. In the field i am in people tend to be conscientious and quite. So i tell them that to move up they can no longer think that their work willl speak for itself – I tell them you have to speak for your work. Also I counsel them about their “hall way reputation” and tell them some of the most important conversations of your career could happen while you are not in the room – so who will speak for you!???? Cultivate that. Do you work well, yes – but manage the optics too, volunteer for something out of your normal team etc.. Thanks Kyle for sharing your perspective!!

  31. Ling says:

    I thought this is a good post. I appreciate a good advice, if and when I recognize a good one, regardless where it come from, man or woman, adult or children. If it comes from a guy, so be it. I mean, why should I ignore a good advice, just because it come from a man?

    That aside, on the work and job aspect. I have to agree, only getting the job done will only get you so far. Getting the job done does not guarantee good work. Managers are looking for people that help advance the team to promote, not just someone that get the job done.

    What I observe in my line, people who get work done is still putting in effort to get there. It take effort to do just more than job, and I don’t think it’s easy.

    And er.. my next statement, I don’t know how people is going to take it: do just enough work to get ahead and reap the rewards without taking extra responsibility or more job.

  32. Jenn S. says:

    There have been seven walls of text written in the comments now.

    Abra, I’m like you. Kyle’s advice is sobering and good. Thank you both for sharing.

  33. S says:

    Hmmm…. I wanna present good news. I like this perspective. I do NOT agree with readers telling Abra they don’t want to see a mans point of view. Isn’t the point that we’re all equal? Good advice is good advice. Who cares where it’s from.

  34. Jan says:

    Totally rubbed me the wrong way. I’m good at plugging away, cranking out work. I’m the one catching the spelling error that would embarrass the person good at the so-called social part of work. I’m not better than that person. I do deserve to be recognized for what I’m good at. And bosses who don’t like bad news? They need to hear it sometimes. They get paid to help solve problems. Those who don’t want to hear bad news end up like Elizabeth Holmes (worst-case scenario, of course). Schmooze the boss to get ahead? No, thank you. Get ahead for good work? Yes, please. (Also, I thought Kyle was offensive a few months back for referring to a guy who carries a free tote bag as an “asshole.” He comes off as a shallow jerk.

    • Belle says:

      I don’t allow personal attacks on other readers, I’m certainly not going to allow one on Kyle. If the best you can do to give your point oomph is to resort to name calling, feel free not to read here anymore.

      I think I’ve proven that I have no quarrel with people who disagree with me or with guest writers or with other commenters. I like a good debate and I’m almost always pleased by the quality of discourse in the comments (even when I’m on the losing side). But your point was made well enough without indulging in troll-like commentary.

      • Jan says:

        You’re absolutely right. I’m sorry. I come here for the respectful discourse, should not be dragging it down.

    • Ava says:

      Belle, this advice wasn’t my cup of tea. I found this post reinforcing of a way of life I’d rather squash, ass kissing towards advancement and the bar crew getting the promotions. BUT I don’t think you posting it or him writing it was the earth-ending event others did. It’s just a very common belief that I wish would die. Until it does, I’ve opted out. I’m okay if that hurts my career.

      Saying that, I am so sorry someone felt the need to attach the person you love. My partner writes for a popular website and it destroys me when commenters attack her.

    • Diane says:

      Unfortunately, disagreeing with the advice and refusing to accept/participate in the game doesn’t make it less true and does nothing to change the system. The only real way to make the change is to recognize the people doing the “job” below you and reward them for it. You can only do that if you are upwardly mobile yourself, which may require aforementioned managing your boss.

      • Belle says:

        It’s definitely a balance between the world we want and the world we live in. I think that would be a good post, how can we do what we need to do to succeed in the now while improving conditions for the future?

        • Niki says:

          You can play the game, so to speak, without being a kiss a$$. I kiss no one’s behind, but I am good at the work. I say hi to everyone, I introduce myself to new executives in my business unit, I make sure that I get in front of the people who make the decisions even if it’s taking on more work than I can handle. I also strongly advocate for myself and my team. I am the first one to pass along any extraordinary feedback I get about me or my team to the bosses. I also work hard to pair my (all-female) team with mentors in the organization that can help them grow into the roles they want. I encourage them to attend in-person webcasts, ask questions, reach out others in the company to see if they have time to chat, and I put them in touch with people who I believe are good resources for them in growing their career. and I ALWAYS give them credit when credit is due and if anyone gives me undeserved credit, I deflect it to the person who truly deserves it.

          I practice what I preach and I hope that it rubs off on my team and that they carry this on in their careers.

  35. Ashley says:

    Long-time reader, very rare commenter here just jumping in with my 2 cents. I’m a high achiever relatively early in my career (<10 years) and this is exactly the advice I've been getting from my female mentor for the past 2 years. I think it's very solid advice, and it has paid dividends for me as I've worked to incorporate it into my own career. I've also watched how doing the "work," not just the "job," has strengthened my mentor's career and her ability to go above and beyond not just by giving her the ability to control her own messaging, but enabling her to connect the dots between one person's needs and another person's skills/interests, for example. It not only helps to form personal, political relationships, but to become known as a person who can find solutions where others might not. I think we should think twice before discounting advice/information just because it's a man doing the talking.

  36. Steph says:

    This is such a good reminder that I can’t put my head down and ignore the conversations in favour of the “job”. I’m in a position where my teammate is great at “work” so I’ve been trying to learn from him – but he quit, so now I have to figure it out.

    I would love to hear your follow up perspective on this advice Belle – as someone this doesn’t come easy to, I would love to hear how you implemented it. However, I am really grateful for Kyle’s perspective too.

    • Belle says:

      I was lucky in my last job to have a co-worker like yours. I did some of his “job” and he helped me do more “work.” There just came a point where there was only so much he could do to push me to be more social or consider the relationship side. To some extent, my social anxiety is just not going to let me get all the way to where I would like to be. But I do try to make more of an effort by taking an interest in my co-workers, asking about family or projects, or complimenting their work. I also try to identify which events I need to go to, and make an effort to schedule coffees or drinks. It’s a start. It’s not enough. But it’s a work in progress.

  37. Charlie says:

    Only stay in a position for 2 year at the most if upward momentum is what you desire. Move laterally if it potentially will provide an upward move.

  38. Cxialu says:

    Related question: How do you deal with a coworker who is not good at “work”, thinks she’s good at her job, and is viciously jealous at you for excelling at both?

    • Belle says:

      Oh gosh…how viciously jealous are we talking here? Is she sabotaging you, complaining about/to you…how is the jealousy manifesting and what are you finding difficult to deal with? I feel like I need more information.

  39. Ann says:

    Personally, I am glad that the advice was straight from Kyle. I work in a male dominated field where no one shares the rules to “the game” of climbing the ladder. Now I feel like I have some insight and I’m ready to play. Let’s face it—for some of us, it’s still a man’s world and I for one want to know how that world works from the source (eg Kyle). We can’t make the workplace better for all women until a few of us climb to the top. If that few of us have to play a man’s game to get there, we need advice from a male perspective.

  40. Tiffany says:

    SPOT ON. Thank you, Abra and Kyle. Looking forward to more.

  41. KS says:

    One thing I want to add is that the “work” part is actually a huge part of your career, not just the role you’re in. Maintaining good relationships with co-workers (both junior and senior!) is basically part of your job description. But it doesn’t stop there. Working in D.C., having relationships “around town” is SO critical to career advancement. You want to be known as the person who has strong relationships on and off the Hill. During quiet periods at work, you should be getting lunch/coffee/drinks with old co-workers and contacts (both men and women).

  42. K says:

    I can appreciate this as good advice – it’s just hard to swallow because this smacks of methods used to reinforce the good old boys club in the past (and still today). It’s frustrating that these informal networks bound up in “work” are so much more powerful in advancing your career versus getting your job done. That being said, being frustrated by it doesn’t make it any less true.

    I value getting advice from male coworkers and mentors, but I also go into it knowing their advice may not fully appreciate the struggles women face in the workplace. I know I can use some of the advice, but I also know it won’t all work for me. Informal “work” – the coffees, social events, networking – can open women up to uncomfortable situations and harassment. This game is also 100 times harder to play when you try to juggle a family and career as a primary caregiver.

    • Belle says:

      There is an element of “boys club,” but people are cliquish and tribal by nature. Even when you break down the male-driven chumminess, there is still a social and political aspect to work.

      Absolutely tougher when you have a family. And of course, men aren’t held to the same standards as parents…yet.

  43. Nicole d says:

    I love this advice! Good advice is good advice I don’t care who it comes from! As far as people not wanting a male perspective- that’s crazy. Kyle isn’t mansplaining anything- he’s giving solid gender-neutral career advice, and I’m here for it!

  44. Nicole says:

    This is so helpful! Thanks Abra and Kyle!

  45. Jean says:

    I’m an “old” reader. I read this column because I find it fascinating and helpful to understand how young (relative to me) career women are thinking and approaching their lives and jobs. And the advice Kyle gave is advice I wish someone–I don’t care who, male, female, old, young–had given me 30 years ago. Thinking back on 30 years of working, it is painful to me to see how right he is and how much it explains. Ladies, if you’re in your 20s, 30s–you’re hearing it from someone who read “Games Your Mother Never Taught You” and “Dress for Success” the first time out. Kyle is 100% right.

  46. Gabrielle says:

    I’m a longtime lurker and first time commenter- I wanted to say that over the years I’ve been reading, you handle criticism and debate so gracefully. I have long respected you and how you run this blog.

    The post itself is on point and I’d love to read more like it, from both your and Kyle’s perspectives as relevant.

    • Belle says:

      I didn’t always. But as I’ve matured in this role, I’ve tried to make room for people because you learn the most from opinions you disagree with or haven’t heard before. But I won’t make room for being hateful toward others.

    • Pam says:

      Completely agree with ,you. Belle shares her life and opens up, handling even the trolls with grace and dignity, not compromising her right to have a point of view!

  47. NEENS says:

    I agree this is great advice, and for those lamenting that it was written by a man, I could have written this as my experience (as a woman) word for word.

    When I started in my field I was definitely focused on the “job” and when everyone in my start class got promoted and equal raises, including those who performed the “job” poorly I had a reality check. I was in the minority of people working overtime as I was helping others manage their work, taking on additional clients, and was a go to resource amongst my peers yet everyone was viewed equally by management because all they see is equal quality work product – not the process by how it got there.

    Managing my boss (and the “boss” has varied between multiple personality types over the years) has been the number one key to my success. Many people get stuck on this is how the job should be done and it worked at my previous firm, without realizing that if the person signing off on the work does not view it this way, it really does not matter. I needed to learn how to be tuned into the areas of focus for each boss so I could get ahead of what their concerns would be as I passed on my work for their review.

    I also would completely agree with the managing the mini-fires and only relaying the issue in conjunction with the solution to show how YOU have effectively managed. And when it is an above-my-paygrade issue, escalating it as quickly as possible.

    I am constantly assigned as a coach to our new hires and one of the things i like to think I well is help them understand the little nuances of our various bosses to help them navigate, but not detailing any issues i may have personally had. I think it’s important for people to build their own personal relationships from their own experiences – but it helps a new hire to know that Tammy McTickmarks will send back workpapers if you have not ticked off every. single. number. in the workpaper so they can avoid her wrath and get off on the right foot.

    Apologies for how poorly this is written, just wanted to chime in with my two cents 🙂

  48. Amanda says:

    How disappointing that there are people who do not want to see a man’s advice on the blog. Good advice is good advice, no matter the source. Kyle’s advice is especially sound.

    • RR says:

      To be fair, I don’t think it’s that we don’t want to see a man’s advice. Rather, I don’t want to see a man’s advice on an issue fraught with gender bias, where that man doesn’t recognize the inherent bias issues (not because he’s evil, but probably because it just didn’t occur to him). I would rather see the advice filtered through Abra, who inherently would understand the issues, or have Kyle give advice on things that don’t have the same inherent complexities that he can’t understand.

      • Amanda says:

        I think filtering his advice through Abra would diminish the impact of what he had to say. I love Abra and her work, and have been a huge fan since the DC days, but my experience in viewing things from a purely female prospective has resulted in a lot of groupthink and loud echo chambers. Obviously, I can only speak for myself, but when I think about my experiences, I can’t help but note that all of my mentors have been men. I have been to seminar after seminar of women talking about their experiences in the professional world, and nothing has resonated as strongly as what Kyle said here. He reminds me of all of my male mentors. I work in a male-dominated industry, and getting a handle on how men think has been the greatest contribution to my work. Reading both Abra’s experiences and Kyle’s experiences are the perfect bridge in the workplace.

  49. sbe says:

    I loved this, and it was *exactly* what I needed today. I think this is fantastic advice that can be applied to many work situations (government industries in my case). I appreciate hearing other reader’s responses and perspectives in regards to this post; it didn’t rub me the wrong way. Like some others, I feel it was solid advice.

  50. Tara says:

    Faithful reader, first time commenter.

    Thank you thank you for sharing this advice and starting a conversation around this. I, like you it sounds, have struggled to accept that this is how the working world works, and it sums up some recent frustrations with managers/bosses who do the “work” well but pass off 25% or more of their job to me, on top of my job.

    I’ve been mulling over this concept, and am wondering how it could affect how I spend my time at work and how I “manage up” to my bosses. This whole idea is so wise… for instance, because a manager will push a portion of her “job” off to me, I’m really likely to hold bitterness and lash out or complain when another higher up asks how things are going—putting me in a camp of mainly being negative to higher ups.

    Appreciate the wisdom in this—even if all don’t agree.

  51. Melanie says:

    Hey Belle! Here’s an idea. Instead of having your boyfriend write posts mansplaining work to your female readers, why don’t YOU get a decent job with some growth potential and write about that? That would be about 10,000 times more illustrative and interesting than this.
    I think it’s past time to understand that the blogging “career” isn’t working out the way you expected it to and it’s time to get a real, grown-up job, like the kind your readers have. There’s a lot of chatter on other blogs about how you seem to be waiting around for Kyle to propose so you can get your MRS and really not have to focus on your career any more. I would posit that if that is not the case, maybe it is “put up or shut up” time. Work advice blogs are really only useful to me if they’re written by someone who is actually working. You’re wasting a lot of good years spinning your wheels waiting to get famous, or whatever. Maybe it’s time to move forward.

    • Belle says:

      Wow. It’s so nice to hear about the intricacies of my personal life from someone who (I hope) has never met me.

      1) The “blogging career” as you call it is working out. It pays all of my expenses, paid for me to attend law school, and provides me a lot of joy in my life (aside from dealing with comments like this). Is it my long-term, full-time goal, no. But it has more than exceeded expectations.

      2) I am working right now. I have wanted to work the Montana legislative session since I was a teenager. And I am so grateful that it worked out for me to be able to work as a policy aide during the 2019 session.

      3) As for waiting around for Kyle to propose to me, we’re adults. It is SOOOO incredibly sexist to assume that because a couple isn’t getting married on a timeline other people think is right that the woman is waiting around. We didn’t marry early in our relationship because Kyle was recently divorced. In the middle part, I was considering whether I could give up my independence to build a life in Spokane, as that is where his life is. Here, in the latter part, we’ve bought a home together, started preparing to have a family, but wanted to wait until the right moment for us. Which is our right, and I won’t have my relationship torn apart by a spectator.

      4) I do not now, nor have I ever intended to become a “famous” blogger. But thank you for creating a goal for me so that you could make me a failure at something I’ve never pursued. This blog, as I mentioned above, has far exceeded my expectations and I keep it going because I love it.

      5) Part of the reason I haven’t taken on a full-time legal job is because my depression and anxiety has been a struggle, and I’m trying to figure out how much stress I can reasonably take on without imperiling my own health. My dream was to be a US Atty, while working in that office I realized that I can’t emotionally handle it. I’m trying to decide on a path forward.

      6) And because I don’t want to later be accused of getting engaged because women gossiping on another blog decided it was time, Kyle and I are engaged. Have been for over a month. Made the decision together that now was the right time for us personally and financially. But thank you, so much, for ruining that announcement with your cruelty.

      • Liz says:


        I am always amazed by the poise with which you respond to comments like the one above. Comments like this aside, I often find the thoughtful feedback from other readers elevates a post that I’ve enjoyed to another level (this being one of them, while I found Kyle’s advice very helpful- thanks Kyle!, a number of the comments have been equally illuminating and useful for me). Keep fighting the good fight (both in your career and the Blog), and your readers will be here rooting for you the whole way!

        One comment I would make on the whole “manage your boss” that has worked really well for me, is this: when you have to bring a problem/issue/question to your boss, be prepared with a couple possible solutions and their pro’s and con’s. This way you’re not coming to your boss with something negative and having it perceived as you asking them to do your job for you, and by having some thought through options that you’re seeking guidance on can both show your boss your capabilities and foster a collaborative relationship between the two of you.

        p.s. CONGRATULATIONS (and don’t let a bitchy comment steal your thunder)


      • E says:

        Belle- even if this wasn’t how you planned to announce it, congratulations on your beautiful, mutual decision to spend the rest of your lives together. I love reading your blog, I hope you continue to post real and honest advice, including the advice of people in your life that you think your readers would appreciate. When you’ve had a blog this long, sometimes your readers don’t mature and evolve along with you. Let those folks find another blog to read. Please keep up your excellent work!

      • CD says:

        Wow. First off, congratulations on your engagement. So sorry that the public announcement was ruined by internet scum.

        Second, this post was interesting to me (regardless of the author’s gender) as the kind of person who is good at “work” that doesn’t fully understand the thought process of people who are better at their “job.” I’ve worked in politics for 8 years for both male and female bosses and while sexism will never go away, I honestly don’t think that this is as fraught with gender issues as many people are claiming. Managing up frankly has more to do with actually managing and communicating your tasks than it does with being part of the good-old-boys network. I work exclusively with women now and some of my direct reports have the exact problem Kyle describes. We all get paid to deal with problems–bosses are busy and have more (and usually bigger) problems than just one employee’s to handle.

      • jo says:

        Congratulations, Abra! My spouse and I dated quite a while before getting engaged, and it’s a very personal decision as to how and when to go about it. Best wishes as you continue to build your lives together!! And good luck figuring out the right job for you – hang in there. I appreciate your openness about your mental health issues and how they have affected your professional life.

        To the original commenter – if you’re enjoying those other websites so much, maybe stick to those websites? Or better yet, just keep those thoughts to yourself. It costs nothing to *not* be mean. Maybe you’re trying to rationalize your words as “tough love,” but don’t fool yourself: your post was incredibly vicious and benefits no one. You don’t have to agree with everything Abra says or does (I don’t!), but if this blog is causing you to have such harsh thoughts, it may be better for you not to read here. Come on, be better than this.

      • KL says:

        Piping up just to say congratulations on your engagement! Well, and you’ve given the toxic commenter more than she deserves with your thoughtful, measured response. Love following you here and on insta, keep up the good work!

      • Andrea says:

        First of all, kudos to you for rising above it all and giving an articulate, graceful response to an individual who most assuredly did not deserve it. Your blog has always been a safe space to engage in thoughtful debate with other women without tearing one another down, and anyone who can’t be bothered to express an opposing view respectfully has no place here.

        Secondly, a big congrats on your engagement!! I was with my SO for 10 years before we got engaged so I FEEL YOU on the constant peanut-gallery commentary about the timeline we “should” be on. Lack of a ring on your finger doesn’t signify any less of a lifelong commitment to another person, and I am a big believer in waiting until you feel it in your gut to take any step- be it personal or professional. I can tell you with absolute certainty that waiting until engagement felt right for me has allowed me to get so much more joy out of the whole process than if I we had rushed it to comply with an arbitrary timeline others laid out for us. You are always true to yourself, and I admire that greatly. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines!

      • Catherine says:

        Abra, your kindness amazes me, and thank you for sharing your good news with all of us. Throughout the years, your content has been so valuable for me–even if I don’t agree with every opinion or outfit choice. Your honesty and authenticity are so refreshing, especially for those of us who have unexpected career trajectories, mental health issues, or even just shitty days.

        Melanie, my heart breaks for you–I hate to think of how you treat yourself if this is how you talk to others. Please take care.

    • Jessica C says:

      Hey Melanie! Here’s another idea. Why don’t you boost women up instead of pull them down? Instead of you commenting on a blog, that you obviously shouldn’t be reading since you have such disdain for the author, why don’t YOU take your unwarranted criticism elsewhere? That would be about 10,000 times more helpful and less eye-roll inducing for the readers who care, than this.
      I think it’s past time to understand that your “helpful,” scratch that, HURTFUL comment won’t work out the way you expect it to and it’s time to get a real take on life, grow up, like the other readers have, and be a champion for other women instead of a critic. There will be a lot of chatter here about how you seem to be waiting around for an opportunity to be spiteful toward Abra. Maybe you should be focused on your career and not the relationship status of the Editor. I would posit that if this is the case, maybe it’s time for you to leave this community. Work advice blogs – which is not this blogs’ sole purpose – are really useful to me when they have a rich comment section of women helping, supporting, and uplifting other women even in times of disagreement. You’re wasting a lot of good years being unkind. Maybe it’s time to move forward. I would suggest removing this blog from your favorites tab and finding a community that you better assimilate with.

    • Elise says:

      I have read your blog for a long time, really enjoy it, and never commented (sorry about that!) But, I just had to pipe up after scrolling and reading Melanie’s comment. It actually took my breath away. I really value your advice and posts, and your openness with mental health issues which I (and I’m sure other) of your readers can relate to. But, I am less brave at putting these issues out there. I’m sure it is hard to hear these personal attacks and wanted to pipe up that I really admire your openness. So, on behalf of the vast majority of your “silent” fans, thanks. I hope your years of blogging have given you the perspective to take this in stride, although I can only imagine that is hard to do. Know that we support and admire you.

      • Jenny says:

        One of the most jaw-droppingly ugly comments I have seen in my life. My mouth literally fell open. Who is this woman?! Anyway yay for Abra! Happy for her

    • Niki says:

      What a small, sad person you are, “Melanie.”

    • How awful some people are. This was an amazing post. I am good at this, but I find that so many women aren’t and it is a skill that really needs to be encouraged. Good on you for doing this and for having kyle write it – it would have been very different if you had interpreted his words. and congrats on your engagement. this rude human didn’t steal your thunder at all.

    • RR says:

      This is ridiculous. There was one post on one other blog, probably by you. Does it make you feel better about yourself to unproductively tear down other women? I think you should examine that. Trying to make other people less will never make you more.

    • AB says:

      Oh my, Melanie.

      Abra, I’m another long, long time reader. My career has grown enormously in the time since I started reading. I am now at a director level managing 150+ people, and over 12 bln. And I still come here for advice. I still think of you as a mentor! I have directed people to your blog more times than I can count. You are one of a kind in the blogging space, and I hope this commenter doesn’t make you doubt for one second impact you have had on many women’s lives. Even if it were just mine, I hope you are deeply proud of what you have accomplished. You are powerful beyond your comprehension. This person’s definition of success is their’s only, and frankly, I doubt will ever bring him/her anywhere near the satisfaction you will have.

      I think Kyle’s advice is great, and would give very similar advice myself. I think some readers added way too much of their own story over his.

      My only addition would be to find ways to make this “work” meaningful instead of a chore to be added on top of the “job.” I stop and talk to people because I care, and because I know it makes a difference to people to feel seen/heard. I stopped thinking about using the “schmooze” to promote myself, and instead focused on giving people the attention or information they need to be successful. That works when you’re managing up or down. Once I finally figured this out, my career skyrocketed and I am much more satisfied by the relationships I have, and what can be accomplished by a team of people that are all paying attention to how they work together, not just the work they do. I think this is a key differentiator to leadership.

    • Pam says:

      I am stunned by the nasty, misdirected and ad hominem comments Melanie.

    • Jess says:

      Wow, I have never seen such a hurtful and negative comment on this blog.
      Belle, please don’t give this internet troll any of your head space.
      You don’t like this post? Fine. There are many ways to express that. (Personally I loved it and even shared with my husband because it was something I had been trying to explain to him but I couldn’t quite articulate).
      Finally, congratulations on the engagement. I’m so sorry the announcement had to be made like this, but I am so excited for both of you!

    • Seriously? says:

      Melanie, you do realize that the career fashion blog you came here from is written by a woman who only blogs and raises her kids now, right? It’s cool for her not to have what you deem a real job, but not okay for Abra to do the same? I hope your life isn’t as weak and pointless as your argument.

      Abra, hated the post. Agreed with it, but hated it. Maybe not mansplaining, but you showed more class responding to this witch than Kyle did in his thoughts.

    • Sam says:

      Abra, Congratulations on your engagement and your thoughtful response to such a callous and useless comment. No one has time for negativity, especially those people who spew it. I admire the loving-kindness you infused in your response, and I’m so sorry it took someone who surfaced from her mudhole to force you to announce and justify your engagement. Life is weird. Stay wonderful.

  52. Lauren says:

    OMG, why are people always looking for *something* to complain about?! It’s useful advice, whether it’s coming from a man or a woman. It’s a different experience than Belle personally had, and she shared it. I feel like some of these commenters probably fall into the ‘bad news bear’ category of people at work! I’m glad you shared this, Belle!

  53. JL says:

    Wanted to thank Belle & Kyle for the post. SMH that some are clutching their pearls about receiving advice from a man. I wonder how those ladies would react if a woman sharing her thoughts on a male-centric website was chastised as harshly as Kyle has been here?

    • jj says:

      reducing legitimate criticism as “pearl clutching” is how men usually justify ignoring women in the workplace

      • Belle says:

        I found a lot of the critiques helpful. I’m happy to balance what I was looking for with what people want.

  54. eMILY says:

    I appreciated this advice. It’s always helpful to read different perspectives. The only way we learn and grow is hearing from people who don’t necessarily think the same way we do.

    I also think we need to get away from the recent tendency in society to discount opinions just because they come from men or more specifically white men. That kind of attitude and tendency to be dismissive based not on content but on the person who is delivering it is what gets us in to trouble and results in things like Trump being president. There are men out there (I suspect Kyle is one of them – particularly because he’s giving advice at how to play the game) that are allies and are trying to help equalize the playing field. We don’t gain anything by turning against them and tearing them down.

    I do agree, however, with some of the other comments above that request that you share your perspective and what advice from Kyle has helped you in your career.

    • Rebecca says:

      Belle, first off CONGRATS on your engagement. I am truly sorry that you were compelled to announce your engagement in response to an internet troll. Your willingness to wait until the time felt right and not feel rushed to marry is truly refreshing. I wish you all the happiness.

      Second, thank you for creating a space on the internet for thirty something career minded women. I came here initially for work fashion advice, but I keep coming back because this space helps me navigate issues involving professional work and life, and there aren’t any other blogs with the same approach.

      I think there is a lot of merit Kyle’s advice. As an attorney managing administrative assistants there is a clear divide between those who handle things without concerning me unless necessary and those who bring the smallest issues to my attention (the fridge needs cleaning, postage isn’t delivered on time, etc.). I simply don’t see any gender bias in Kyle’s post.

      To respond to the other comments, if Kyle’s advice doesn’t resonate, ignore it and move on. There is enough nastiness in this world.

  55. Jenn says:

    I love Kyle’s advice and would welcome more posts from him. The work vs. job distinction is a critical one and often isn’t discussed.

  56. AnOn says:

    Belle, hated the post, found it super mansplainy, no idea why I should care what Kyle thinks of anything. But I’m really impressed with how you’ve handled that critique and your voice in the comments has made the discussion interesting and mostly respectful. Thanks also for being open about your struggles with anxiety- it’s a burden I carry as well and while i have a regular 9-5, I could never run a blog like this! People will always gossip but I think most of us are here because you’re doing something we value. Thanks!

    • Belle says:

      I appreciate that. I thought there were some really good suggestions. I think future posts on what I’ve learned from Kyle or anyone on the topic of career will blend the advice and my experience more.

      Good luck managing your anxiety. Mine has worsened over the years, and being back at a full time again has been a challenge, esp. in an industry with so much inherent conflict.

  57. Kate says:

    I appreciate this kind of post so very much whether from you or Kyle. I only wish someone like Kyle had been willing to openly discuss this dynamic and how to do “work” when I started. In retrospect, it would have probably been one of the top five lessons on work dynamics taken to heart over the course of my career.. I hope you all take it to heart. Belle, continued thanks for a blog that promotes fashion, beauty and on point advice. I appreciate you do not delete comments. But, Melanie – just WOW. One of the meanest spirited comments I have ever seen.

  58. Holly B says:

    I don’t comment often (this might be my second time). I follow you because of your thoughts and insights that are digestible and relatable. I LOVED Kyle’s advice (thank you Kyle, if you look through these comments). It made me take a hard pause. I started reporting to a VP a few months ago and some of my “chicken litte” tendencies of talking about issues… I need to learn to reframe these problems and how I tell her about them. Thank you both for sharing! And I’ve loved following your story over the years, so happy for yall!

  59. J says:

    First, congrats Abra!

    Second, I appreciated Kyle’s post. Thinking through it since reading it yesterday made me realize that I’ve been improving the “work” aspect of my career, which has helped me move forward as well. To be honest, I didn’t get the advice as nicely as Kyle told it to you; I feel like my superior “mansplained” it to me in a much more offensive way that nearly sent me to HR. When I parsed through the discussion (using the 5 whys method), I realized there were things I could improve for myself.

    Third, thank you for handling the discussion in such a civil manner. No one loves every single bit of content that one blog has; I keep coming back to your blog because you provide that variety of content that I greatly appreciated.

  60. Liz says:

    Belle, thanks for continuing the conversation in the comments. I found the discussion useful. And congratulations on your engagement!

  61. Hannah says:

    I had a female boss teach me several of these exact points, especially the one about making sure all good news travels up. She also taught me to start those emails with “Great news – x, y, z happened.” Clients and bosses love getting emails like that. It’s good advice.

  62. Elise says:

    I read through this post, thought about it a bit, and honestly never gave a thought to the fact that the advice was written by a man rather than a woman. Reading through the comments was really illuminating- I have a lot of privilege in my life and never considered many of the things that other women deal with in the workplace. Thank you all (minus Melanie, yes I really read all these comments) for your respectful and interesting discussion. I hope I can be as thoughtful about gender issues and consider others’ experiences as carefully and helpful as so many of you.????????????????????????????????????????????

  63. CArly says:

    I really enjoyed this different perspective, I think he nailed it, would love to see more posts from his perspective.

  64. Nmr says:

    Congrats!!! Amazing news.

    I’ve appreciated the dialogue in these comments. That’s what’s so good about this blog.

    • Jill says:

      Wonderful news! A separate issue on the boss management question: I worked somewhere with an important mission, wanted to do my best on behalf of our clients, had a boss who didn’t take things seriously, plopped himself down in my office to chat indefinitely while I wanted to be working. It was the one time I had my own office in a long career. If he’d been gabbing in his office, I could have excused myself. When he finally did leave my office, I’d have to stay later to finish the work I needed to do. Weird situation. I left for a variety of reasons. If I’d stayed longer, I would have needed to find a tactful way to address the situation. I think he thought he was being a fun boss. That wasn’t fun for me. Interested in what others might have done.

      • Belle says:

        I dislike when people drop by for more than 10-15 minutes. I had a boss who did the same, but only when his wife wouldn’t answer his phone calls. It was so weird to be his fallback chat choice.

  65. ES says:

    I really loved this post. I hate the idea that women should only seek career advice and mentorship from other women (or that women are the only people obligated to mentor other women). Men make up the majority of leadship roles in most industries and they should be giving women more advice to get ahead. It’s super helpful to hear how a guy thinks about this — and it’s definitely making me rethink how I approach parts of “work” I tend to view as a waste of time. I hope you share more of Kyle’s advice you’ve found helpful — whether in his voice or filtered through your own experience. And congratulations!

  66. Asha says:

    Isn’t this just another way to justify promoting someone based on something other than merit? This feels like a nicely packaged way to give a raise to your homie instead of the person who deserves it.

    • Belle says:

      In some fields, the work part can be merit based. If you work as a lobbyist, in sales, in marketing, in fields where relationships and networking provide value, it could be an important skill. One of the reasons I hated lobbying was because I didn’t want to shake the hands and go to the happy hours, etc.. My co-worker who was MUCH better at that got raises and promotions, and I considered those merit based.

    • Opal says:

      That depends upon the field. I know someone who does the fundraising for a non-profit. When she began she focused on the “things” she needed to do. It was when she began focusing on the work of relationship building that she started succeeding. You want people to give you their money? Their business? They need to know you and trust you. It doesn’t mean the details can be ignored. I cannot ignore the specs of a project, but I better not ignore the relationship I have with the people who award contracts.

      • Kate says:

        I spend quite a bit of time raising money for youth organizations. This is so true. They must trust you, which means they must know you.

  67. Erin says:

    First of all, love this post! I am 33 years old, and now realizing how important networking is. I recently read “Lean In”, “Nice Girls don’t get the Corner Office”, and other similar career books for women. They all echo this sentiment – networking is important. Mistake #1 in “Nice Girls” is “pretending it isn’t a game.” I have recently changed my attitude and starting playing the game. What is there to lose?

    Some follow up posts I would love to see:
    1. @Dianne said: “What was Kyle’s solution for your coworker getting “credit” for you absorbing half of your her work and stress? How does a “do-er” assure they get credit for making sure others’ work gets done?” I’m interested in this topic as well.

    2. Salary transparency: pros, cons, differences for women vs men. Mistake #23 in “Nice Girls” is “Denying the Importance of Money.” Should women be asking for more money? Should we be sharing our salaries anonymously, through glassdoor? Should we be seeking external offers regularly?

    3. Mid-level career changes. For me personally, I’m technical and the jobs for my skillset are geographically limited, mostly in areas of the country I do not want to move to. So external offers are tricky. I’m actually considering a career change to land on a path with more growth potential and lots of job opportunities in NYC, SF, and other places I would like to live. I’m giving up 10+ years of experience however.

    I’d love to hear your and Kyle’s thoughts on these topics. TBH I’m more excited about this than the style posts 🙂

  68. Natalie says:

    Good thing that good advice is genderless. ???? I truly enjoyed this and got some great nuggets from it, thank you!

  69. Opal says:

    This was one of the hardest lessons I learned when I was in my first full time “job”. I was busy focused on the things and was frustrated at the man, who I trained, getting recognition. At first I assumed it was just because he was a man. Then I took the time to learn the soft skills that I needed to succeed. I’m still not great at small talk, but I fake it really well. It’s rather like dating. Get the other people talking about themselves.

    The commentators who are bent because this was written by a man are exhibiting their own sexism.

  70. Claire says:

    I appreciate his input. I also think and never hurts to hear anyone’s perspective, especically when they do have an advantage (by cirtue of being male in a generally male-driven professional setting) I aspire to. My personal journey took me from the politics of Washington to the corporate parent where I took on a very different role in the business side. I saw quickly that internal politics are the same as the traditional variety and the same rules can apply. Know what the person’s motivation is, work to give them something they want and you get rewarded with support and opportunity. People want to work with people they like to be around so showing that side of yourself, while hard, is important. People around you ARE competing whether you know (or want to) or not…in many cases it is best to let the game play itself out when you are dealing with overly ambitious, ego-driven colleagues… they ultimately shoot each other and sitting it out and showing continuous good work and sound judgment positions you when the timing is right for a solid, no-drama compromise.

  71. Jen says:

    1) One bad apple, man. Seriously. Get a hobby, Melanie. Read a book. Take a walk.
    2) 8 years ago, I was a “jobber” with all my i’s dotted, etc. Passed over. Hustled and was successful, but not as successful as I could be. My husband was the one who opened my eyes to this Work thing, so good on you, Kyle. I don’t consider it mansplaining if I ask for the advice. Sounds like this revelation was born organically out of an honest and loving conversation between two professional adults. Advice coming out of a man’s mouth does not necessarily equal mansplaining, and to call all male perspective and suggestions as such weakens our argument when we encounter the [frequent] real mansplainer.
    3) I am fairly good at this today. Getting better. And much of the improvement is the “good news up” philosophy. Where I used to think that giving my boss a blow by blow of conversations, hurdles, encounters and reports would make me seem like SUCH A GOOD WORKER, I now see that it just bugs most bosses. They assume you are a good worker. That’s why you were hired. They are pleasantly surprised, however, when they get an unexpected win out of the blue, delivered with little to no oversight.
    3) I find it helpful to call my coffees, lunches, dinners, drinks, golf outings, etc. what they really are. They’re work. Would I spend time with the CEO of a major hospital system in my free time, golfing in an area five hours from my husband and son? No. That is work. Would I meet fellow lobbyists for drinks on a weeknight if I didn’t need to develop that relationship for the next time I needed coalition suppport? Nope. They’re not that fun. I am going to work when I attend those functions. I am working when I take a lunch, go to coffee, work the room at a business event.

  72. Mercedes says:

    Abra, I love your blog and have read it for years. I’m so sorry you are being attacked this way. I liked Kyle’s post and even though the points he made may not be “fair”, guess what, life’s not fair either.

  73. KO says:

    I appreciate Kyle’s comments here. As an 11 yr attorney I have seen this happen time & again with promotions & lateral moves, including to non-legal executive jobs. At this stage in my career, some of the most powerful women I know are “making moves” (& rain) employ similar strategies. I don’t ever want to be the type who can’t back up my work persona with substantive job skills and success. I don’t have much respect for anyone – male or female – who can’t do their job but is crushing it at networking & self promoting. I’ve seen the fallout from shitty work product by master self-promoters many times. In the long run your reputation will erode if you’re not competent at your job. Unfortunately I believe this is more applicable to women’s reputations than men’s. Hoping in the future our culture will celebrate job skills at least as much as work charms. In the meantime I’m doing my best on both fronts. Your post also reminds me I need to start reading my copy of “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders (and how to fix it)”!

    • Kelly says:

      I think so many people get away with shitty work (or shitty behavior) because managers either don’t look deep enough or don’t hold people accountable for mistakes. Problems should be addressed when they occur and in proportion to their severity. My last company didn’t do any of this. I should have taken it as a sign of things to come when my first annual review brought up the one time that year I transferred a call to the wrong person. Meanwhile the lone guy in my department was basically groomed from day one for upward direction. He’s now head of a department where his age is less years than some of his subordinates’ tenure at the company. And I don’t work there anymore. So I’ll be checking out that book you named.

    • Belle says:

      I think the author of that book had a long form magazine piece (in HBR, maybe?), and it was really interesting.

  74. EF says:

    WOW! I’m late to the party on this one! These comments are something else. That being said, I found this post to be so spot on. Thank you, Kyle and thank you, Abra! And you showed tremendous grace in dealing with the commenters, particularly She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Congratulations on your engagement!

  75. Is says:

    Congratulations on your engagement! I thought Kyle’s advice was valuable and wondered if he had any resources he could share for learning more about managing up. Are there helpful books/podcasts etc. or are these skills simply learned over time and with experience?

    • Belle says:

      He has some negotiating and workplace strategy books in the shared office. I know because I remember packing them, but I don’t remember the titles. I’ll ask.

  76. Bb says:

    I absolutely love this post and the perspective it offers on career advancement. I don’t agree with the comments highlighting that just because it’s coming from a man it qualifies as “mansplaining” or it only applies to “boy’s club” kind of environments. I work in an environment with mostly women (at least in my department and its management, hence where the promotions & decision power lies) and the same holds true; politics and building the right relationships matter the most.

    I am usually resistant to this type of “shallow” (not to name it worse) relationship building but I think acknowledging its role and understanding that you can use it to your advantage and that it can also be done in a way that fits your personality and your values, is a huge element we all need to use in making sure we get ahead in our careers. I hope you will keep sharing great posts like this one!

  77. K says:

    1) Congratulations on your engagement. Congratulations on doing things your way, and finding your path.

    2).I have no problem with Kyle’s post. I didn’t see it as mansplaining (I accept that others do). I thought woman or man could be reading that advice. His writing tone is distinct and very different from yours, and I wonder if that’s what people find off putting. The advice itself – we may not like it but there was an element of telling it how it is that I appreciate.

    3) work vs job – I think I misread the post in my head and made it career vs job. I’m at a point in my work life where my job is more about paying my bills and funding pursuits and I’m trying to pivot away from it being my identity or how I measure success. I wonder if in your own anxiety/depression and the path your on now if that is something you’ve experienced. If so, I would look forward to reading your thoughts if you choose to share them.

  78. Liz says:

    I think Kyle’s perspective and the way you gave it context was really good. I’d be happy to see more of his thoughts in the future and then be free to make up my own mind about what to take or leave from them. I started reading the comments but then it was just like…sooo many! It seems to have triggered some people, which I can empathize with even if I don’t feel the same way.

    I guess what I would like to impart as a long time reader and appreciator of you is that I hope you don’t feel too bad about the way that some things that you create in this space will rub some people the wrong way. You can’t please all the people all the time. You seem to genuinely be trying to help people (STRANGERS who pay you NOTHING I might add!!!) and trying to understand how to improve and that’s all any of us can do (much less expect of someone else). You’re awesome. I don’t always agree with everything you say, or buy the products you post about, but I truly value all the good work that you are putting in to the universe. Thanks for showing up for us and pulling in all the resources at your disposal to help us build our own power.

  79. Nicole says:

    My ladyboss recently told me that my job was to get other people to do as much of my job as possible so that I could focus on the parts of my job no one else could do. Making friends with people in other departments and convincing them to take on work I might have to do is important. Too much on my to do list will never get done if I do it all myself. Her ladyboss strongly agreed. Still trying to figure out how to do that but really flipped the way I think about work.

    Would love to see more posts like this in the future. From Kyle or anyone else you think has an interesting perspective or philosophy.

  80. Kasey says:

    Who the hell is Melanie and why are her knickers in a knot?
    Honestly, I think Regina said it best “why are you so obsessed with me (belle”

  81. […] to get ahead at work. I loved this post from Capitol Hill Style on understanding that you need to be good at both your job (work hard and get things done) and your […]

  82. Lyssa says:

    I came back to this post because I’ve been thinking about it for the week it’s been up. I read a few comments and then gave up on that because …

    This is the very definition of feminism or quality: it does not matter from whom high-quality advice comes.

    Would men rail against a woman giving them advice? If they did we’d call it sexist. Therefore, it’s sexist for “us” women to rail against a man’s advice purely on the basis of his gender.

  83. Alaina says:

    This post really resonated with me! So much so that I shared it with my husband who is also someone who is good at his “job” but not as good at “work”. This post is one that I will come back to again and again. Thank you!

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