Fight Back! 5 Bad Behaviors That Threaten Our Inner Power
November 27, 2017
“It’s not about supplication, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power, it’s about changing the very face of power itself.” – Kimberle Williams Crenshaw
Let’s get something straight…Don’t think for a moment that this post is about downplaying your competence or potential. I am not bashing nor demeaning the way women socialize in our society. This post is intended to point out some mistakes or pitfalls women consistently engage in that ultimately weakens self-power. From childhood, women are taught to act a certain way that over time become an integral part of the adult behavior. We are taught to always be polite, speak softly, and be nice to everyone without realizing the detrimental impact. I am only acknowledging the reality of unchecked submissiveness creates a foundation for bad habits that can sabotage women’s career mobility. Here are five bad (I would say annoying but I’ll be a jerk because we all do it) behaviors women adopt that negatively affect female empowerment.
1. Apologizing Way Too Much
For some reason, it is our duty and full responsibility to make sure everyone’s good. We try so hard to play “nice girl” but not “boss woman” which is an unconscious bad behavior that focuses on unimportant things by pleasing everyone but ourselves. It’s a non-confrontational defense mechanism that women use all the time to feel somewhat at fault in every circumstance.
If your boss’s car broke down on the freeway that made him late to an important meeting, why are you apologizing? Did you cause his or her car to break down? It’s okay to show compassion for others but break this bad habit immediately. Cut the “I’m sorry” crap or people may begin to question your confidence and you definitely don’t want that. (Did you just lost your female power somewhere?) If you did make a mistake, become superwoman and come up with a solution rather wasting your time making sure everyone’s feelings remain intact.
2. Asking For Permission–Not Taking Initiative
Ask yourself. What leader has ever asked anyone for permission? Leaders are proactive and get what they want just by doing. They never stall for someone to give them a heads up. Be confident in yourself and take action on furthering your goals. What’s stopping you? Perfection? Nah, scientists and mathematicians have proven there’s no such thing. Fear of failure? Nah, just like taxes, you can’t avoid that. Other people’s opinions? Who gives a shit. Women spend so much time playing defense that we forget that we supposed to score too. We don’t need the approval to be great…just go out there and do your best.
3. Not Playing “The Game”
There is such thing as office or workplace politics and some people say you should avoid it at all costs but I beg to differ. I can remember my boss telling me “You have to play the game otherwise you can’t win.” I didn’t really understand what he meant other than interpreting it as play “nice girl” and making sure I don’t rub anyone the wrong way. What he actually meant was, learn the language to work with others “strategically”. Skillfully observe and learn other people’s personal habits, behavior, and interactions. In the business world, office politics is inevitable and you have to be involved in order to move forward into the next phase of your career.
For example, let’s take Serena Williams’ tennis career. She never plays it safe. She always takes risks whether she’s serving or running to the net for a winner. She never plays the “nice girl”. She dominates the sport because she understands the boundaries and rules of the game. She strategically studies her opponent’s behavior and athleticism and uses it to her advantage. Her actions may not appear lady-like but her success proves the point. She knows how to play the game. But you want to play nice…Kanye shrug*
4. Being Way Too Modest–Underselling Ourselves
I’m a victim of this “modesty trap” even to this day, and not just with work. I’m modest toward others because I don’t want people to feel like I’m just the shit…even when I know I am! And so are you! Share your awards and achievement. Burnish your skills and display them with confidence! Because we would you never say that Stephen Curry needs to check his ego on the court!
We constantly undersell our experience and expertise and fail to place enough creditability or value in our own brand. We buy into this imaginary fear that if we were to boldly apply ourselves with a no-nonsense self-assurance, someone may suggest we are show-offs, or may be labeled arrogant or unladylike. You’re not being arrogant by being great at what you do. You worked your ass off to achieve your accomplishments. So glow with confidence and expose your gifts unapologetically!
5. Failure to Speak Up
With all the sexual harassment and assault cases in the current news, it’s well past the time that women should speak up against any social injustice or gender inequality they perceive or experience. If we don’t speak, we give up our power. From childhood, women are taught not to be aggressive, confrontational, or “fuel the fire” when faced with things that seem wrong. This behavior or inaction is designed to persuade us to be quiet. Societal norms for women suggest that if we were to be aggressive or confrontational, we become deviants and contribute more to the problem….no doubt face serious consequences.
It’s really a shame that when women speak up or fight for what’s right, they receive a backlash of contrary consequences because we are supposed to be submissive and stick to the traditional customs of letting a man speak for us. Because apparently, we doing such a damn good job of letting men speak for our behavior, our bodies, and our purses, (59-76 cents to a dollar! Ladies?! Come on!) Please go read Make Sisterhood Great Again. But we have to keep going. We have to continue to speak up, assert ourselves, and exert our female power.
Jasmin Williams is Melanation’s creative and editorial director. You can find her IG @jasminjanae to know what she’s been up to.
Featured image: @everythingcleo @oye_diran
Which behavior relates to you? Any other habits that women fall victim to? Please comment in the inbox below!