Are your thoughts, words, and behaviours holding you back?

The women’s empowerment movement has made astonishing progress over the course of history thus far. However, it would be naïve to say that women are no longer facing obstacles in the business and entrepreneurial space. Much of the corporate world still roots against women’s progress in the form of micro-aggressions; while companies may not explicitly voice their role in keeping women small, their expectations, behaviours, and policies limit women in being their true successful selves in the workplace. As many women know from firsthand experience, this body of thought can take extreme toll on one’s own belief in their capability. Sometimes, without even consciously making the decision to do so, women’s own thoughts, words and behaviours begin to inherently limit themselves in business. 

Do you ever find yourself perpetuating the cycle through any of the following limiting actions?

You share your perspective, but finish the thought with “I don’t know though”. 

Existing for years in a working world that has suggested to both men and women that male leaders are the most capable, women often find themselves doubting their own ideas. This affects women of all ages. Listen in on a high school or university level discussion, and then a corporate board room with executives, and even perhaps in the office of budding entrepreneurs. The exciting sound of women sharing trailblazing thoughts will often be punctuated by a deafening “…but I don’t know, though”.

The exciting sound of women sharing trailblazing thoughts will often be punctuated by a deafening “…but I don’t know, though”.

What are women doing when they say this? Unfortunately, many have developed this intrinsic mentality of ensuring themselves from being too assertive in sharing their knowledge, expertise, or beliefs. To make matters worse, often women’s suggestions are the right ones, and they know that! Claim your ability. Instead of ending your input with “but I’m not sure”, try  “what are your thoughts on my idea?” 

You are reluctant to credit yourself for your achievements. 

It’s no secret that women can accomplish A LOT in business. The sheer amount of female-led companies in the world today shows the power and capability of women. So why do we often find ourselves reluctant to claim their prominent role in the success of a project or business? When being praised for one’s good work, women often respond in a manner that causes the achievement to appear as a shared triumph; “I couldn’t have done it without my colleague/assistant/boss!” While there is no problem in acknowledging others who did contribute to a success, it is important that this accrediting does not happen in an effort to limit women’s star-power presence in a workplace. Again, based on the way that the traditional business space has conditioned women to avoid being the biggest force in the room, women begin to devalue themselves with language like the above. This inherently limits women as they are never acknowledged as the sole proprietor of their own successes. Instead of greeting praise with “Oh, it was a joint effort,” try “thank you, I worked hard on this.” 

…based on the way that the traditional business space has conditioned women to avoid being the biggest force in the room, women begin to devalue themselves with language…

You find yourself trying to prove that you have a “work yourself to death” mentality in order to “compete”.

In today’s workforce there is a stigma that the person who clocks the most hours, possesses the most expertise, or can excel off the least amount of sleep is the most capable person in the office. This stigma is a direct by-product of a masculine mindset that emphasizes cutthroat competition to be the most “dedicated” in business. However, the world is moving toward a place where women (and men, too) are questioning the mere validity of this mentality in the first place. Who has the time or drive to live that type of lifestyle?  Really, who has a willingness to live like this? Any analysis of the thought process will likely conclude that this is not a healthy way to behave and live. Nonetheless, the stigma is still alive and well in many workplaces across the world. Women feel like they have to complete one hundred tasks and then some to ensure that they are keeping up with the rigor that is presented as the societal standard. Especially amongst women, there is a notion that each of these tasks need to be done perfectly, in order to establish their competence. By inviting this overload of responsibility through this skewed mindset, women end up limiting themselves as they bear the emotional and physical burden at the day’s end. Here’s a secret: women do not have to be the best at every single detail of their job. They do not have to say yes to every single task. Because guess what? Men don’t micromanage every detail of a project, either. They delegate without the worry that they appear less-than or incompetent. Women need to stop the cycle of limiting themselves with beliefs like this one, and then they will in turn, be able to achieve a whole lot more. Instead of thinking “I need to be an expert on every detail of this job and deliver a perfect outcome”, try “what part of this job can I delegate to someone else to make this easier on myself?”

Women are the future of business, and it’s time to start acting like it.

Women are the future of business, and it’s time to start acting like it. Gone are the days of limiting thoughts and comments keeping women small! Going forward, change the way you frame your behaviours and language in your mind. You have all of the tools, the smarts, and the drive to achieve what you truly want in the business world. Reach out and claim what’s yours!

 

Amelia Ceolin

References: 
Helgesen, S., & Goldsmith, M. (2018, March 28). How women can succeed by rethinking old habits. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from https://www.strategy-business.com/article/How-Women-Can-Succeed-by-Rethinking-Old-Habits?gko=ce0ec