When you are little girl, you have the values instilled into you that the only way ahead in this life is to embrace masculine traits. You're brought up to believe you have to squash your feminine side to get ahead. You're told by your parents: "Be brave, and don't make a fuss."
And when you get older and enter the workforce, you are given the same skewed rhetoric. Now you are urged to be 'manly' in the workplace, full of bravado and chutzpah. It's all about 'aggressive is best.'
I fell for this mantra myself. Working full time as an attorney, I earned the nickname 'Barracuda' from my colleagues and clients, wearing it like a badge of honor. After years of unfulfillment and a feeling of burn out, I realized squashing my feminine traits down in favor of being 'ballsy' was doing me nothing but damage.
As a professional woman, if you have tried to get ahead or even survive in the workplace, you will have encountered this. You have been surrounded by a sea of men who were leading with ROI and a clinical approach to work. You will have been told: 'There is no room for emotion in the boardroom.'
So how do you embrace your feminine traits, and use that power you have to negotiate a better and more comfortable working environment? And in a world where many of you are now communicating through a screen, vocabulary and attitude are critical when you can't use body language.
So what is the answer? Do you attempt to conform to the leadership style that's been historically rewarded with success? Or do you follow your heart and be true to yourself? Should you be true to your feminine, and bring passion and empathy to your workplace, while putting people at the center?
The answer is you don't need to fall into the trap many women do. You don't need to put on a very assertive, almost aggressive mask so you can appear more masculine. There is no doubt that kind of attitude will get you noticed (it worked for me) and get you raised and get you ahead. But it can cause more harm than good. This approach can also drain your energy and make you feel like an impostor. And it will detract from your real gifts as a woman.
So what are your feminine traits? The beauty of being a woman is you have the qualities of collaboration, nurture, and communication. Other assets considered feminine are empathy, caregiving, positive emotions, and intuition. These have long gone unrecognized in traditional workplace culture.
Instead, being direct, competitive, and assertive is what makes waves. But, it's not about female/male; it's about feminine/masculine. There are plenty of men out there who embody feminine qualities, and vice versa.
You need to tap into your feminine qualities personally and professionally as a source of power. It will ultimately connect you with your authentic self. You are a creative being and have different gifts that meld beautifully and soften and enhance masculine traits. When you are competitive and overly assertive, you lose these gifts and end up with a weaker result. It can negate your power to negotiate with your inner strength.
Women face unique challenges when it comes to negotiating. First off, you can often be viewed as 'unlikeable' when you do it. Women are seen as too demanding and not nice. You also lean towards underestimating your professional value. This is because you have been conditioned to avoid assertiveness, which is essential for a successful negotiation.
However, listening, collaboration, and empathy, which are all essential negotiation traits, aren't in conflict with how you are supposed to behave as a woman. They can help you negotiate with empathy and help avoid adverse outcomes.
When you use your masculine traits and adopt competitive, assertive energy, you are losing out on a much more powerful force inside you? If you stay in your feminine power and competing in a 'man's world', you keep integrity with yourself. And you create irreversible change with everyone you work with.
Your feminine traits can help you re-sign clients and build a community in your workplace. Leaning into your feminine qualities of emotional connection, compassion, and sensitivity, those around you will see you as a thought leader with strength. They make you appear strong and enhance trust. It IS possible to project confidence, power, and authority while staying true to your feminine traits.
You are your most real authentic self. Femininity is about embracing your ability to be vulnerable. And it's about acknowledging other people's strengths and helping them use them to benefit everyone in your business. So often, these qualities are lacking in business, and management teams are desperate for it! By encouraging this dynamic, you will have happier employees and a more productive workforce.
5 Ways You Can Use Your Feminine Traits To Negotiate
Here are some traditionally 'feminine' traits that can be your superpowers in life and the workplace, and help you negotiate a better environment.
Intuition has long been ignored in the workplace in favor of data and facts. But did you know women have an intangible and heightened sensory ability because you use your senses to pick up on other things men may miss? This can be a critical factor in your ability to negotiate. There is such a think ag as 'women's intuition.
You will often do this without realizing it. According to research, in general, women are better than men at reading facial expressions. They can pick up on more subtle emotional messages.
It would help if you had intuition AND hard data and facts to assist your performance in the workplace. Or in life in general. The combination enables you to be innovative and successful.
This can be particularly helpful when it comes to what you say. If men and women use the same language when they ask for a raise, a woman is seen as too aggressive unless they demonstrate some kind of warmth or smile. You can restore your 'warmth' through a 'bid for connection.'
This can include:
Creating an outcome which is beneficial to both of you
Smiling and nodding (but not too much)
If you are a kind and friendly person, you will do this anyway!
Today the best leaders are caregivers. The reason this has always been associated as a feminine quality is that it's associated with mothering.
But if you are a caregiver in the workplace or life, you nurture talent, encourage your team, and allow people to be open with you. You offer support. And you inspire. And using this mindset when you are negotiating will always bring positive results. If you come from the point of care, you demonstrate you have values, ethics, and passion.
There is nothing wrong with caring about what happens to people you work with. Now more than ever, in this time of uncertainty, it's essential to be concerned with others' futures. If you are negotiating, you can use this trait to your benefit. You will make people feel heard and understood, and they will connect with you o a human level.
If you know someone else's goals, fears, aspirations, passions, insecurities, and securities, who has the power? You do, of course. And you also have the potential to do good. You can help someone find their strengths and overcome their barriers. Then they can make an impact that is authentic to them and of value your business."
A masculine approach is very much 'I,' whereas women tend to say 'we.' That's because you realize that the power of a team is diversity. Collaboration is crucial, and the best teams have different kinds of skills and thought leadership at the table. How boring and uncreative would your team be if everyone was the same? And when you collaborate and take on and understand other's traits, you can come from a position of strength. You can embrace collaboration even when negotiating to get to the result you want.
Cultivating Positive Emotions
Showing emotional intelligence and positive emotions increase someone's willingness to work with you. And that means they are more open to negotiating with you.
People in positive moods prefer collaboration over competition. By cultivating positive spirits, you can assert your needs and make the other person feel you are doing everything you can to consider theirs.
By demonstrating emotional intelligence on this level, you can also boost your confidence. And you can negotiate better and give someone else greater self-assurance, especially in stressful situations.
Your increased confidence may also reduce your anxiety, which women experience to a greater degree than men when negotiating. Thus you will have a better understanding of other people's needs and interests, making it easier to find an integrative solution.
There is no doubt it can be difficult sometimes to stay true to your feminine and be successful. But if you can embrace and stand in your power, you will be so much better for it. And, you will be more than surprised by the impact it can have on your life.
If you liked this blog post, check out how to negotiate from worry to empowerment.
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