Respect 101 and the hazards of being assertive… Got respect? Know why it matters to men?
The other night while I was teaching public speaking at our local community college, I made a comment that rattled the cages of a few of the women. I didn’t mean to upset them, but they needed to know the truth.
And here it is: according to a research study conducted in 2015 by Vital Smarts, the perceived competency of women DROPS by 35% when she is as assertive as a man is (all other things being equal – including the words) in the workplace. And yes, the men are also penalized for assertive behavior, but to a much lesser degree.
What is also interesting, is that “mild” and “moderate” forcefulness are considered nearly equally negative in women, while they are NOT in men.
Bottom line: the more assertive women get, the more negatively we are evaluated at work.
You should totally check out the group Vital Smarts. They have an awesome book, “Crucial Conversations.” A worthy read. Their website is chock full of awesomeness, too.
This whole phenomena is based on a concept called, “unconscious bias.” You can learn more about it here.
I’ve been working with communicators long enough to know their findings apply in all relationships – wives that are harsh don’t have relationships with their husbands or kids that are healthy or work. Maybe you aren’t given to general disrespect, but you occasionally “lose it” and indulge in a fit of rage or two. Understand that it takes your husband a lot longer to recover from that than it does you. Research by Gottman shows that women, in general, also take a shorter amount of time than men to bounce back after a flooding experience.
The advice in this article is good in giving some ideas to stop and settle the flooding response. I’ve found personally, that not trusting my emotions is really helpful. Here’s why: Like the muscle memory that comes with riding a bicycle or horses, we have emotional muscle memory from our childhoods that impact our interactions in today’s Now. We teach this in Daughters of Sarah, our course for married women:
- Don’t trust your feelings
- Examine your childhood – what did your parents model?
- Take your thoughts captive – and evaluate them
- Put a healthy SPACE in a flooded or damaging interaction
…just to name a few…
So let’s stop all the harsh behavior. It’s not helpful.
I have a theory… I think this “harsh” behavior can trigger a memory of mom – and not that mom is bad, but mom’s been harsh at some point, which creates shame in her kid – so when she or he grows up and experiences this harshness again, it feels like being shamed, like interacting with mom – and of course the perception then becomes negative, even if the woman is right. As Emerson Eggerich says, “Right but wrong at the top of your voice.”
Of course this coincides with today’s dare – and our first RESPECT 101 TIP:
STOP being harsh. Speak gently, sweetly, kindly. Always.
So today, I’m daring you to be gentle, kind, sweet. FEMININE. Yes, I said that. I’m NOT suggesting that you stop being honest or brave, or not address issues. We need to do those things, but it is the way in which we go about them that matters.
How are your words today? Are they respectful? Too forceful? Are you able to speak the truth in love today? What do you think about the harshness of women? Can’t wait to hear!
You may have noticed the blog has a new format – what do you think? Hopefully it is easier to navigate!
Love to you,
A few other posts of interest:
Logical & emotional issues with conflict with tweens & teens from Debbie’s blog
If you lead Bible studies, you’ll want to learn how to help women actually CHANGE
And here’s a leadership assessment for you to look at & consider