Ladies, it’s time we admitted it. We can blame the boys, we can put it all on society, but at the end of the day there are certain characteristics we possess ourselves that are keeping us from breaking through the glass ceiling. And trust me, I’m saying “we” for a reason. I am just as guilty of these as the general female population, but I’m working on nipping each one in the bud. The bottom line is, if there’s something about yourself that’s not up to par, isn’t it better to know now and work on improving it? So brace yourselves for a few gut checks, but know that you’re going to be a better “girl boss” because of it.
1. You apologize too much.
When I worked in an office, this was one item that I was a stickler on with the girls that worked on projects with me. Don’t apologize, don’t apologize, don’t apologize. I felt like I was nagging, but then I decided I didn’t care. Saying sorry should be something you reserve for times when you are really, truly in the wrong. Not when you accidentally bump into a coworker at the water cooler. It makes you appear weak, and women don’t need to add that on top of long-standing perceptions that we are, indeed, delicate flowers. Don’t believe me that this is an issue specifically for women? Read this Fast Company article here. Or watch the following cheesy (albeit on point) Pantene commercial below:
2. You upspeak.
I didn’t know what this was until I took a psychology class in college, but a light bulb might as well have gone off in my head after I understood it for the first time. Upspeak is when you use a rising intonation at the end of a sentence to make it sound as though you’re asking a question instead. Like when people are unsure of what they’re talking about? So they constantly end on a high note? And while the jury is still out on how big of an impact, if any, this truly has on women, I think it’s important to refer to point number one. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you’re truly sorry, say sorry. If you’re asking a question, sound like you’re asking a question. But don’t add in an opening for people to doubt you unnecessarily. That’s just asking to be passed over for that next promotion, or being named the lead on that next big project. Why would we give it to Diane, she’s so unsure about everything, right? No, she just uses upspeak.
3. You can’t take a compliment.
I used to give my mom a hard time about this for years. Then a few months ago I was talking to both my parents on the phone when they gave me some sort of compliment. I started to backtrack, make excuses, basically do anything except say a simple “thank you”, and my mom called me out on it. That was a reality check for me. The fact of the matter is, most of the time when we as women are told something nice about ourselves we dismiss it, feel uncomfortable, or give credit to someone else. Oh, you think I nailed that presentation? I had a lot of help from the team. Oh, you think I look nice today? Can’t be right, I didn’t get any sleep last night. The next time someone gives you a compliment, I dare you to just say THANK YOU. That’s it. No more, no less. Because there is a part of you that doesn’t believe what they’ve just said if you continue to dodge the nice sentiment. For more tips on accepting a compliment, read this article here.
4. You don’t want to seem like a b*tch.
Pardon the language, but it’s the truth. We will do almost anything to avoid being the mean girl, even if someone deserves it. We can say something in only the slightest assertive tone, and someone will get offended. Because we’re females, we’re “supposed” to be meek and mild. Anything else must be shut down swiftly and severely by society. And sometimes we’re even at more risk for being called the “B” word amongst our female comrades. So what’s a strong, confident girl to do? First and foremost, don’t be caught off guard when you hear another woman speaking her mind and (gasp) not apologizing for it. Refer to bullet number one if you have a problem with that. You see, the more people are surrounded by and exposed to women who are assertive, the less it will seem like an anomaly. And that’s the first step to assimilation into normal cultural expectations.
5. You doubt your own worth.
Unless you were living under a rock recently, you probably heard about or read Jennifer Lawrence’s letter on her salary compared to her male counterparts. I don’t know about you, but the part I found the most intriguing was that she essentially blamed herself. She didn’t ask for more money because she didn’t want to seem needy, but she also didn’t think seem to think she deserved that much. She acknowledged that her male co-stars negotiated for what they knew they were worth, and yet she held back. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Academy Award-winning actress vying for a multi-million dollar deal or a junior high girl running for Class President, we all tend to get a little antsy when it comes time to say, “YES, I DESERVE THIS.” And I get it, that is pretty terrifying. Here’s the tricky part though. If you don’t step out on that ledge and declare your worth, you can bet no one else on this planet is going to do it for you. Don’t wait another minute to decide that you are a valuable asset to your company, your relationships, and to yourself. You are WORTH fighting for. Never forget that.
Any thoughts? Self-sabotage techniques I missed? Let me know in the comments!