Advice to Those in Company of Great Women
In honoring International Women's Month, many articles and blogs are written for women to help them empower themselves, take the reins and see their dreams through. There is no shortage of books advising women to Lean In (a great book by the way), and take control of their true destiny.
But I truly believe women got it! Most know what they want and what it takes to make their dreams a reality.
Multiple studies show girls already study harder, they grow into women who work harder and have audacious big goals. The problem is not within them, but rather external, with all those surrounding them but not supporting them or believing in them.
This blog is for all those surrounded by great and brave women. This March, I offer four simple tips to help better understand the amazing women around you, dissolve misconceptions and help bridge the gap.
There is wisdom in the saying “seek to understand before being understood” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Hearing someone and listening to them are two different things. True listening is a skill that requires self-control, patience, empathy and a desire to understand.
Whenever a female colleague, a friend or family member approach you with a concern or story to tell, practice true listening by using your ears to hear what they are saying, your eyes to observe how they are saying it and check your own body language to make sure you are creating a comfortable space for them to express themselves.
It requires strength and courage to control your temptation to interrupt, tell them what they should do or use the word “but”. Whenever you catch yourself about to do one of these three things, stop, be quiet and listen.
#2 Assumptions & Stereotyping
Assumptions can be blinding. That is not to say you cannot make assumptions at all, but rather, make sure to validate your assumptions and be flexible enough to correct your position accordingly.
For instance, don’t assume your newly married female Sales Rep will not welcome a promotion just because she might want to start a family! (a true story). If she is qualified and deserves the promotion, offer it to her and allow her to make her own decision as to accept or decline the offer.
Stereotyping on the other hand is very damaging and limiting, not to the other person, but limiting to the person with the stereotype belief. Humans are complicated creatures, just because we share the same gender, race or culture does not automatically mean our experiences and desires match.
Treat every person as their own rightful individual.
Unfortunately, some women feel they are not “seen” in their workplace. They might experience an imposter syndrome or don't feel encouraged to share their voice.
Even worse, some have their ideas stolen from them right in front of their eyes! This happened to me personally. A long time ago, I had made a recommendation only for my male work colleague to claim it and build it up as his own! Luckily, I had an amazing manager who put a stop to it there and then, he called it out on the spot and recognized me for my idea.
When a woman comes up with a great idea, does a great job or overachieves a goal, tell her. Don’t think it will go over her head, I promise you, it won’t. When a little girl shows you pride in something she had accomplished, a drawing she completed, toys she organized or sparkles on her painted nails, tell her she is amazing, don’t feel you need to undermine her to ground her! (another true story).
#4 Pave the Way
Potential is potential, when you see someone who can do amazing things and has potential to be great, pave the way for them. Men or woman, but especially women.
Unfortunately, the toxic and sometimes hostile work environments, have caused some women to subdue their skills and capabilities. Some build a defensive wall to protect themselves.
For this reason, you need to keep an open eye especially for high potential women around you and help them succeed.
In order to have a better life and live in a better world, we need men and women working together, side by side, elevating one another to success. It is not rocket science.
If we were meant to evolve independently, we would have been living in separate planets. Obviously, the universe has a better vision for us, so let’s work towards it.