At Leaders in Heels, we are passionate about celebrating women’s stories, and when we heard Div Pillay’s story, we knew we had to share it with you. Grab yourself a cuppa and settle in to enjoy this article, written by Div herself.

In light of everything going on in the world today, I #ChooseToChallenge you. I challenge you to think about how you are advocating for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women.

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During your career as a manager, you may encounter sensitive situations with colleagues and employees. Often these problems don’t resolve themselves on their own and employees may be upset, confused and the list of potential situations you may face is endless.

When difficult situations arise it often falls to the manager to have the hard conversation with their direct report. No one told me this when I became a manager and I have had to teach myself this skill, apply knowledge gleaned from others, and consolidate what I have learnt on the job. It’s my hope that with this post I’ll leave you with tips you can use the next time you find yourself in a “what the heck do I do with this?” type of dilemma.

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Some people love networking, others shudder at even the thought of it. While you may think that being an introvert is a drawback for those in business, it is actually an amazing quality for building relationships in business. Why? Because you are focused on where you’re headed, and what you need — and less distracted by the superficial ‘noise’ around you.

So don’t let the world convince you that building strong relationships in business requires you to be an extrovert!

Amanda Rose founder of Small Business Women Australia, has put together her top tricks to build relationships and strategically connect when networking doesn’t come naturally — or even worse, you loathe it.

1. Build up a strong online presence

This is THE easiest way to build a network and have a profile without having to constantly be out and about networking. For business professionals, you should be aware of all mediums however focusing on a handful and doing it well will reap benefits. LinkedIn is a necessity for anyone in business. Others which are beneficial are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

2. Video

This may sound weird as a recommendation for an introvert. However, it is often easier and more comfortable to video yourself and have it edited, then distribute it in a controlled environment, than to deal with strangers face to face. Further, the messages and pitches you polish for video will actually make it easier when you have to network face-to-face at some time.

3. Leverage media (print & online)

There are many websites that will accept your content without you having to leave your laptop. Content is king and distributing that content is queen. So ‘get your writing on’ and produce quality pieces of educational information in your area of expertise. You can also respond to media call-outs, contact media outlets and offer yourself as a commentator on an area you are passionate about and experienced in.

4. Network in small groups/informal events

When life and network groups get back to normal, keep your networking to small groups or one-on-one meetings. If you don’t know of any, create your own. Invite a handful of people out to lunch. The smaller the group, the more detailed and immersed the discussions are — and the stronger the connections will be.

5. Buddy up at large events

Large events can’t be avoided; and if you go, they need to be leveraged. If you are uncomfortable in large crowds with whom you’re expected to mingle, take a buddy along. Someone who can help you work the room, support conversations you have and help you connect with new people. Remember that everyone in that room is there to meet you and everyone else in that room. Enjoy the process. Learn what you can about the people you engage with. If you are uncomfortable talking about yourself, ask questions about them!

6. Master the follow-up

Don’t fall into the trap of the follow-up freeze. You stare at people’s business cards and start overthinking whether you should be following them up. And if you do, what do you have to say? Do they care? Will they even remember you? Stop this! For starters, they would not have connected with you at an event if they didn’t care about what you had to say or offer.

Secondly, always consider this. Make it as easy as possible for someone to work with you. Remember you are an expert in what you do so help others understand that by educating others on ways you can help them, including examples of what you have done before.


When it comes to dealing with difficult people in life, we often try to prepare for the worst and make a plan of attack. The common attitude is, “Oh no! I have a problem; how do I fix it?”

Handling troublesome colleagues in the workplace can have its own set of unique challenges – projects, people and processes can become affected, not to mention your own sense of well-being and job enjoyment.

Is it possible to have a “battle plan” for dealing with colleagues and create a beneficial outcome for all without turning the workplace into a war-zone? Thankfully, yes. With some simple tactics and a shift in perspective, you can turn the tables on difficult colleagues and have more ease among your business relationships.

Don’t doubt yourself or take it personally

A colleague going out of their way to fight you can be very disconcerting. When I first experienced it myself, I couldn’t figure out why it was happening. This person would be nice one moment, and nasty the next. I received accusations of being competitive, copying work, not being as good as I thought I was, or at other times being totally dismissed or ignored. I was confused, and my first thought was wondering what I’d done wrong and what I needed to do to fix it and make it okay.

Then I learned this “mantra”: it’s not personal. I’d been seeing myself as the cause of their actions, but I began to notice that it wasn’t about me at all, so it made sense that my efforts to appease this person weren’t working either. Another hot tip is this: people tend to accuse you of what they are doing, not what you are doing.

So, when I listened to the accusations from my co-worker with impartial ears, it gave me information about what was going on for them: I began to see it was them choosing to compete and feeling less capable at their job. They were attempting to invalidate me so that they could feel better about themselves.

When I stopped taking it personally or trying to see how I was the cause of the problem, I was able to be more aware of the situation as it really was and choose not to get caught up emotionally in their choices and insecurities.

Replace reaction, anger and upset with gratitude

In the face of another’s unkindness, it is easy to react with upset or anger and make judgments: people shouldn’t act this way in a professional situation; it’s wrong; if only they would stop, change, see things from your point of view. Rather than conclude, expect or hope that things should be different – what if you could dispense with all of that and have gratitude instead?

This may seem difficult at first, but every judgment about right or wrong that we make, whether we direct it at ourselves or another person, eliminates our sense of choices and makes us powerless. You can argue, “Well, we should be respectful of one another,” and yes of course, wouldn’t that be nice if everyone did that? But a more pragmatic attitude would be to acknowledge, “Okay, this is what this person is choosing at the moment. What else is possible and what choices do I have I haven’t considered?”

Gratitude and judgement cannot exist next to each other, so gratitude puts you back in charge, with a clearer head and ability to act beyond just reaction. What can you be grateful for about this person and the situation? If you did not view them as a problem, what contribution could they be? What advantages could this situation present you? Every problem has a possibility attached to it, if you are willing to take out the judgment and look for the “silver lining”.

Acknowledge what is different about you

Difficult colleagues are often the ones that have not created or accomplished what you have or do not have the same sense of joy, fun, ease in life and work that you do. They may be attracted to conflict with you precisely because you are different. It’s not the nicest thing to acknowledge, but many people look to the strong, different and unique ones to try and get them down. This may not make sense to you, because you are probably someone who becomes inspired by another person achieving greatness. Not everyone functions this way, and the ones who don’t desire for you to be successful will attempt to bring you down and keep you small, so they can stay comfortable.

If you are finding this hard to see what’s so different about you, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: what is the strength I have that I haven’t acknowledged? What is different about me that I have not been willing to see?

When I started to look closer at what I was that was different to those around me, I realized that I was a lot happier than most people, I had more fun than most people, and I enjoyed my job more than most people. I could find the benefit in every situation, and this was very annoying for my colleague! Recognizing that I was not wrong, just different, was a blessing because I was able to turn things around and instead of being upset, I could just be myself and laugh when others tried to make my life miserable.

Be creative, not combative

When you acknowledge someone’s agenda for making your life difficult, without judging it or feeling the need to fight it, they become quite predictable and easy to read. Be grateful for all the information they give you and use it to your advantage. This may sound manipulative and in truth – it is! Manipulate simply means “to handle in a skillful manner.” Ask, “What does this person need and how do they need to be handled in order to be willing to contribute to with ease?” For example, if you know they love praise from their manager, you could say, “Can you help? The boss was so grateful for you helping him last month.” If you are willing to be creative and deliver what they need to hear, without a point of view, you will be surprised at what can change.

 

You don’t have to go to war with problematic coworkers to improve things. If you end the battle within you – eliminate judgment, have gratitude, ask questions, be creative and most of all, have fun being you – you will begin to realize that nothing and no one can make you unhappy or stop you from living your life the way you desire.


After completing her social work studies in Vienna, Doris Schachenhofer worked with children, homeless people, delinquent teenagers and prisoners transitioning back into the real world. Today she travels the world teaching and supporting people to be more of themselves. Her Being You classes are delivered in both live and online settings. Follow Doris here and on Instagram.


If you’re one of the nearly 273,000 new mothers that’s taken maternity leave this year, you may understand that returning to work when this leave ends can be difficult. Your priorities will shift from loving and caring for your newborn full time to balancing your life and career. Raising a child is difficult enough, but adding a career into the mix adds another element. Whether you’re choosing to return for the enjoyment you get out of your career or for financial reasons, know that you’re making the right decision for you and your family. Working mothers raise some of the best children.

Work Out the Details

Deciding the best date to return is the first step in the process. If it’s possible for you to return midweek, do so. This way your first week back is short and more manageable. Once you have determined this, you’ll need to communicate with your human resources department and anyone that you report directly to. If they are available for a meeting, this can be a great way to establish the details of your return and what their expectations are. Will you have any limitations? Are there any days that you may need to take off for doctors appointments, childcare conflicts, etc?

It’s important to know if your office provides a private space for you to pump in if you are breastfeeding. Knowing what perks your office has available to new mothers is useful information. For example, if there is a flexible work option, take advantage of it. Being able to leave on a moments notice is helpful for emergencies. If working from home a day or two a week is a viable option for you, this can be a great perk as well.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

It’s normal to experience many different emotions during this transition. Whether it’s a feeling of guilt leaving your baby (which many new working mothers tend to experience), or a bit of nerve returning to your position. These feelings are normal. What’s important is not letting these emotions overwhelm you. Find creative ways to deal with the emotions you’re experiencing. For example, you can bring in photos for your office that might help your desk feel homier. Grab a cup of coffee with another mother in the office who has been through this before. She’ll understand best what you’re going through and can give you her own tips and tricks for adjusting back into your work comfort zone.

Ask for Help

Every mother wants to be the best mom she can be. Thinking that you can do it all isn’t always realistic, however. As much as you may want to be supermom, know that it’s okay to ask for help every once in a while. Having a child is an amazing accomplishment, but it’s also a lot of work. Adding your career into the mix, only makes things more difficult. When you’re feeling stressed out, invite a family member or friend over for a few hours to watch your baby while you get a few chores done or take a peaceful trip to the store by yourself. You’d be surprised how this simple ask can make a big difference to you.

Prepare in Advance

If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 of how prepared you are to go back to work, what would your answer be? Anything less than a 5, you might want to take a few notes from the pros. Mornings can be hectic. Preparing yourself and your family for smoother mornings can make your routine much better. Once you have established the childcare option you’ll be using, become comfortable with them. When hiring a nanny or choosing a daycare center, there is nothing wrong with running background checks, calling references and going with your gut. It’s important to ensure that this will be the best fit for you both. Start childcare a few days before your return to help your baby get comfortable around new people and spending time away from you.

Creating a routine can help everyone in the family. Place a large calendar somewhere in the house that everyone can easily add their schedule to. This will eliminate the chance of someone forgetting an event or an overlap in activities. Picking out outfits the night before or meal prepping early in the week can save you a few hectic minutes each morning. Additionally, taking a practice run of your typical morning routine the week before is a good way to make sure you can get to work and the childcare center on time.

Take Care of Yourself

For a busy working mother, an established self-care routine often goes out the window the moment they return to work. It’s human nature for mothers to place others needs before her own, yet it’s important to take care of yourself. Neglecting to have any simple form of a self-care routine can lead to negative physical and mental side effects. There is a multitude of different shapes that the term “self-care” can take such as:

  • Taking time to figure out the best ways to manage your stress.
  • Partaking in hobbies that you enjoy such as yoga, painting or reading.
  • Finding professional clothes for work that make you feel good, fit well, and are comfortable, like a supportive nursing bra or a cozy new sweater.
  • Spend a day at the spa.

Following these tips and tricks can help make your transition go a little smoother. Things probably won’t be the same as they were before you had a child, but you’ll find your new comfort zone. Working mothers are some of the strongest, most independent and caring people. They deserve our praise.


Giving anything less than positive feedback to anyone at all can be intimidating. Giving feedback to a boss is another story entirely; naturally it feels risky. Nobody wants to jeopardise their position or damage working relationships – if they can help it.

However, there are times when it becomes necessary to give feedback to your boss. Perhaps your boss has requested it, in which case there’s no getting out of it. It might be that your situation has become so uncomfortable that you’ll want to leave unless change happens.

Regardless of the reason for your constructive feedback, how you deliver that feedback is everything. The below feedback methods will bring about the best possible outcome:

Consider the reasons for the feedback

Are you feeding back for your own reasons, or has your boss asked for this feedback? Dependent on the circumstances, the conversation may happen quite differently. If your boss has asked for feedback, there is probably a specific reason for that. Perhaps your boss wants to know how all employees feel about their management of a certain project.

In this case, it’s not a good time to impart all of your concerns about their timekeeping or moods. If those things are a real issue for you, a separate meeting at a later date may be required. Find out the reasons for the feedback request and ask for specific areas to feedback on. Then address those areas carefully using the methods coming up below.

If the feedback is something you’re giving for personal reasons, remember that your boss isn’t going to be expecting this. Unless they have the skin of a rhino, the chances are your feedback could put them on the back foot. The main difference is that when your boss asks for feedback, they’re expecting something specific; they may also be better prepared to receive your opinions.

Consider the validity of what you’re saying

This requires self-honesty. Do you have a genuinely good reason for giving your boss this feedback? If you dig deep and find that truthfully, it’s a personality clash and you just have quite different ways of approaching situations, it might not be worth saying anything.

Your feedback may come across as a character assassination, which won’t do wonders for your working relationship, whatever state it is currently in. However, if you feel that your boss is making poor decisions to the detriment of your project or company, you probably have a duty to discuss it.

It’s important to remember that your boss is in this role because of their skills, experience and qualifications. Although they may be doing things differently than you would, they got the job. It helps to keep this in mind, as it’s quite possible that they know things you don’t. If you don’t have the full picture, you may be joining the dots incorrectly.

Stick to what’s most important

If you have decided that your reasons for feedback are worthy, it’s time to decide on which things you’re going to talk about. You may have a list of ten different things that you don’t like about your boss’ behaviour or approach. Know that bringing too many issues to the table at once is a bad idea.

Landing a large number of issues on somebody in one hit is probably going to wind them. You may find that they stop listening after the first three points, rejecting the most important points because they feel you’ve come at them with a laundry list of errors they’ve made.

Boil your issues down to the most crucial points. What is causing the most discomfort or disharmony for you or your team? Which things have had the most negative impact on your role or project? Avoid anything that may come across as ‘niggly’ or petty. Prioritising carefully is crucial to the success of your conversation.

Prepare for your meeting

Once you’ve decided on the most crucial points you want to discuss, write them down in a bulleted list of points you want to make. Improvising is a bad idea; your emotions might start to drive the conversation, or you might forget crucial points if your boss distracts you with their responses.

It’s easy to feel that you know exactly what you want to say, but when challenged or faced with an emotional response, you may be caught off guard. Make sure your notes only include what you decided was most important and don’t deviate from that.

At the top of your notes, prepare a little positive feedback to start with. Nobody enjoys being criticized, so it always helps to let your boss know what you appreciate about them before you go into the issues. This way they will be more receptive to what they can do better.

Stick to the facts

It’s imperative to offer observations, facts, and examples. Dumping your feelings and opinions on someone without rational explanation behind them won’t garner much understanding – it will feel like a rant.

Let’s imagine your boss somehow undermined you with a client you were making good progress with. Your client was about to sign a deal, and pulled out after your boss’ input. Prepare the evidence that your client was ready to sign, and any communications that demonstrate the reasons for their change of heart.

You may be upset about this, with reason, but telling your boss that they “always undermine you”, “never consider your efforts”, etc. is not going to get you far. Inquiring rather than accusing makes a world of difference. You may genuinely feel upset, but your boss needs to see what it is they’ve actually done to cause it.

Be positive, respectful and compassionate

Let your boss know that you appreciate the opportunity to discuss your thoughts. When you deliver your perspective in a considerate way, your boss won’t feel defensive. If you come across as caring for not only your own role and wellbeing, but also that of your boss and the company as a whole, they’ll be more receptive.

When you deliver one of your points and back it up with evidence, give them a chance to respond. Listen to what they have to say and show understanding for their perspective. Remember that your boss is your boss for a reason, and it won’t help to undermine their authority.

Keep in mind that your boss wasn’t going out of their way to upset you – they were probably unaware of the effect they were having. It could be that your boss was having personal issues that impacted their performance or decision-making.

Lastly, allow for some processing time. Your boss may come back to you later with deeper understanding. People need time to process criticism; it’s often hard to take and needs some consideration before they can see it from your point of view. Be open to (and encourage) reciprocation, as there may be some constructive feedback you could benefit from too.


Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler.com.au — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.