Why do we answer this way? These are responses every woman is familiar with. From the time we're born we're socialized to think that others happiness is more important than our own. From a very early age as little girls we are told that we'll only be liked or accepted if we are accommodating and sweet. Our role in life is to please and accommodate others and to put ourselves last.
This lack of feeling and going after what we really want leads many of us to give up on our most intimate dreams and desires. It's not like we don't have dreams and desires, but we couldn't possibly go after them because that would mean we'd be putting ourselves above others. We as women spend our whole lives living for others instead of ourselves.
But, it doesn't have to be this way and our work cultures can actually help. Below are 3 ways managers can help women think and own their thoughts, opinion and dreams:
Be conscious of how women on your team are responding when being asked their opinion. Are they "going with the flow" or being direct and sharing their true opinion? If there are women that speak up and provide their consensus on a regular basis, celebrate this. Make a point to hear from everyone. If you have one or two team members that tend to speak on behalf of the team provide the opportunity for everyone to weigh in. It can be easy to go along with the loudest and most outspoken voices, but those voices aren't necessarily the consensus.
Provide different ways for your team to provide feedback. It's hard for some women to speak up in group settings. It's helpful to change the format of how you ask your team for their input including: Slack polls, surveys and 1:1 conversations. These settings eliminate the chance for public judgement and allow women to speak more freely.
As a leader, provide women on your team with the opportunity to share their dreams with you directly. Disarm them by using language like, "If you had a magic wand, what would you be doing in 6 months, 1 year?" Allow them to use their imagination to visualize the life and career of their dreams. Due to conditioning from a very young age women have been taught to suppress their thoughts and dreams. Providing the opportunity to express their dreams unlocks the ability to live them.
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