How to make women your allies, not enemies
By Beate Chelette
It used to be called sisterhood, the feeling of kinship with other women that fosters support and community. Perhaps you’re fortunate to have a support group of wonderful women, but many women don’t. Frankly, I don’t see much sisterhood around today, except maybe in the HBO hit series Girls, where the spirit of sisterhood is in and on the air. http://goo.gl/VpnH8
In business, I’ve seen how badly women treat each other. Gossip, back-biting and sabotage are rationalized as justifiable means to achieve the end—career advancement. The prevailing mindset of “What’s in it for me?” seems to reign over “What can I contribute to you?”
But we can—and must–change that because there are enormous benefits that spring from knowing how to give, receive and ask for support. And let’s face it, with our busy lives, who doesn’t need help sometimes?
Showing support to other women is one of the core principles of The Women’s Code and I have seen how it has transformed the personal and professional lives of many women.
We tend to take so much on, at work and at home, and often what suffers is us. Giving support is usually easier than asking for it, but it’s really important to understand that by asking for support, you’re actually honoring the other person. You’re not taking away from them. You’re showing that you like and trust them enough to ask for help. And remember to be very specific about what it is that you want.
Maybe it’s a ride to your doctor’s appointment, or you need a colleague to cover for you when you’re out of the office. Not a big deal when you think about it. Or maybe you just need to rant about something and need a friendly ear. But put a time limit on that, no more than 10 minutes, otherwise your kind listener becomes an emotional trashcan.
In business, groom your successor, don’t compete with her.
As long as you worry that someone wants your job you can’t get to the next level. Successor thinking is crucial to your promotion. Recognize, promote, and mentor the next woman who should have your job. You need to have this successor in place to be ready for the next promotion. Your boss expects it, your company needs it and men tend to do this naturally.
Giving Support. Sometimes all you have to say is: You can do this. I totally believe in you. You’ll make it through. I have total faith in you. How can I support you? What can I do? I do that with my coaching clients and what happens is many often return the favor and find ways to support me. They ask what they can do for me. I love that. You could call that the buy-in because now you’re giving it and you’re getting it back.
If I know you’re supporting me, I’m so much more inclined to give you my support because I know it comes right back at me. And therein begins the cycle of mutual benefit.
Try my (easy as) ABC formula:
A. You state what happened, sticking as close to the facts as possible and leaving out Emotion.
B. Then you state how you feel about the situation and how it affects you. Usually these statements need to start with “I.” This is the way it makes me feel.
C. You state what you would like to happen, the desired outcomes.
Here’s a good example. My daughter called recently from Chicago where she’s in college. Unwittingly, she missed a play rehearsal one Saturday because a friend neglected to relay the message. But still, she took no responsibility for knowing what the rehearsal schedule was and blamed her absence on someone else. “Don’t be another one of those artists that just promises and never really wants to do the work,” the director told my daughter which, of course, crushed her.
So I taught her the ABC formula. She wrote an email to the director and said: “This is what happened. I didn’t show up on the day where I had said I might be there. I take full responsibility for not showing up. I feel really bad because I know how important it is as a performer to be on good terms with the director and to do my work and I’m really willing to do that.”
And then she wrote: “For the future, perhaps we could make your expectations of me clearer so that you let me know when you want me to put in the extra time and effort. That way I can fulfill your expectations.”
What do you think happened? The director sent an email back: “That was the most amazing thing and I really appreciate you doing that and yes, you’re absolutely right.” So she resolved this issue in a simple way and without any trace of friction. It takes a lot of practice and honestly, I forget sometimes to do it myself. Remembering to stay focused on one part of the formula at a time always helps.
Support someone today and watch the give-take cycle begin. Tell them: I believe in you and I support you.