Now that I live in the South, I see how different the social environment is here. It’s friendly and relationships definitely come first when doing business. When I lived in NYC, it was enough to say who you were and who you worked with or for and you’d be accepted on your own merit.

So, culturally, the North and South have its differences. Since the south has been a bit behind in a lot of ways, I find myself teaching some of the women here techniques to be noticed more, and how to assert them more. Additionally, I find that the younger men here view their age as a detriment as opposed to an asset. They want to appear older, or have the confidence of an older person. Again, that wasn’t’ anything I dealt with in NY. People there are judged on their results, not their age or sex. It seemed to me anyway.

For myself, I find that I’m not as well received here in the South. When I come to a company, I bring a lot of experience to the table. I have been coaching and training for over 10 years! But when I am seen upon first impression here, the feeling (I’ve been told) is “who does she think she is?” My son’s preschool teacher told me this. She said that she didn’t think we’d ever have anything in common with me. I dropped him off at school dressed for work, and walk and talk fast. This was overwhelming to her at first. When she took time to get to know me she said: “I had NO ideeeaaaa you were SOOOO. niiiiiice” .. in her southern, charming way.

My clothes say that I like trends. I do have a lot of classics in my wardrobe, but I add accessories that are fun. This area is very conservative. The best outfit to wear is a dark suit. The best personality to show off at first is a reserved, under toned and one that brings no attention to you. Conservative is the best word to describe the south. The Bible Belt is alive and well!

Women here are very sweet. I’ve also noticed that many of them want to come off as more powerful to get the respect they deserve. There are a few of those “good ol’ boys” around. Their attitude is “don’t worry your pretty little head about anything; I’ll take care of it”. Meanwhile, they are calling the woman’s clients and trying to scam on them, they are making golf plans when the woman goes to the ladies room with the client and they are doodling when the woman is conducting a meeting.

I’ve coached several of the women here to fight like the men! One of my clients was actually told recently not to get her (get ready!) “panties in a … bind”. I coached her to not only get her PANTIES in a bind, but to get all of those men in a room, stand before them as they sat down, stare them down and stand up for what she knew to be right! She did and she woke them up to the fact that they had a JUDAS in their midst. It’s an ongoing saga, but she took the reins and confronted an ugly situation.

Women have to take themselves seriously before others are going to take them seriously too. Half the time, it’s the other women who are posing problems for the go getters in the office. Women here have some sort of clique thing going. At one company I coached for, they called themselves “the beautiful people”. Well, in my mind, beauty is more in the actions than their looks. And if that’s at all the case, this group was the ugliest group of women anywhere. They were awful to the other women in the company. As a result they are hurting the environment of the whole company. They are protective of their turf, and they severely punish the other women who are outside of their clique by gossiping or spreading rumors. I’m sad to say, that the ringleader of this group could be found daily reading her bible in the women’s lobby. I just wonder if she really paid attention to what she was reading?

Okay, I know that northerners have politics. I’ve maneuvered enough people thru their company politics to know that you have to be smart about it. But in the north, you know right up front where you stand. You know when you mess up and you know what you have to do to achieve more status or more money. (Unless you are in a corporate environment… where anything can happen!) Here in the south, they’ll do all of the nice things to your face, and they’ll ruin you behind your back.

Since I’m not employed full time in any organization, I’ve seen the same thing happen over and over with different clients. I’ve coached the women to refrain from making friends if they are shut out of a clique. If they are being treated with dirty politics, sometimes you just have to be smarter. Being friends with the boss’ wife is a good one, or landing the biggest client is another way to secure your position with the company. One of the women I am coaching was so hated for her beauty, that she threw caution to the wind and got HAIR extensions! It made the women rage, but they ended up copying her look.

The people who do the best in organizations tend to stay OUT of company politics. They don’t gossip and they have one or two friends in the company but they don’t rely on their co-workers for their emotional support. Work is work and it’s best to put your best foot forward every day.

The people who gain respect are those who are consistent. They come prepared for meetings and bring value to the team every day. They go out of their way to help each of the team members and work late often if they have to.

There are many things to take away that are great about the south. It’s slower and it’s more manageable. You don’t have to wear tennis shoes to the office because you are commuting from an hour away and walking 2 miles from your car to work. The traffic is bad but mostly people are polite. People don’t usually cut in front of you and they wave you in.

When you walk in an office, people say hi. They’re always friendly and willing to talk and share. It’s easy to make friends here. People don’t look at you suspiciously if you ask them to get together for lunch or dinner. They actually thank you for taking the initiative.

The people you meet in everyday life are nice and talk. Sure it takes time, but it’s probably more enjoyable. And, it’s not as competitive. The northerners who come here have to SLOW down in the work place. Often times, people can’t physically keep up with the work load that the Northerners generate.

Charlotte has become a melting pot. There are people from everywhere, but it still has the social mores from the south. It’s best to WATCH first and LEARN before diving in and taking it for granted that you’ll be successful here.

I’ve learned that the ol’ line from Frank Sinatra’s song “if you can make it in NY, you can make it anywhere” is NOT TRUE. It’s far from the truth. I say, if you make it in NY, you’ll have to change your ways to be successful elsewhere.

You have to watch.
You have to listen.
And you have to network. But don’t forget to get introduced… That’s how its done here… iiiiinn the SOOOOOUUUUUUTH.