Do you beat yourself up for giving in to temptation to watch trashy T.V.? You’re not alone. After a long day, it’s tempting to lay back, disengage the brain and observe mindless entertainment. Then, of course, we self-flagellate for the lapse, thinking of all the productive activities we ‘should’ be engaging in. But what if you could do both? While binging on Netflix can admittedly be a total timewaster, what if you brought more intention to the activity so it was productive activity in and of itself?
Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you watch documentaries and educational shows. I’m proposing that you pay just a little more attention to what you’re watching and how you watch it. Let’s take the new hit show, Partner Track, as an example. On one level, you could kick back and watch the show as a quasi-soap-opera gratuitous activity. Definite time-waste.
But what if, instead, you enjoyed the show while at the same time exploring the deeper implications. If you simultaneously contemplated patterns and lessons you could take away from the show. If you challenged the precepts presented. What if, in fact, that was in part the purpose of some of these shows? Something to think about.
At the outset of the pilot show, for example, you’re faced with a series of life mottos the protagonist (Ingrid, a young female attorney aspiring to make partner) lives by, including:
“If you want to accelerate you need more force.”
“A girl like me really needs to stay tough [to succeed] in a city like this.”
These simple statements are more potent than they seem at first blush. It is precisely this kind of conditioning that has disadvantaged generations of women … in business and in life. We’re conditioned to define success based on competitive, masculine models, taught to believe that toughness carries the day. As a result, many women either shy away from negotiating to get what they want (trying to avoid the expected conflict) or they overcompensate, adopting a ‘take no prisoners’ approach. Both have high costs.
In fact, my mission to debunk these self-sabotaging myths prompted me to write Art of Feminine Negotiation: How to Get What You Want From the Boardroom to the Bedroom (which I’m happy to report hit the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best seller lists!) I feel passionately about flipping the flawed script we’ve all been fed.
Ironically, the key skills that make the most effective negotiators are so-called feminine traits: rapport-building, empathy, flexibility, intuition, trust-building. When we approach negotiations (and life) with a collaborative and curious approach, we get better outcomes, better relationships, better buy-in, longer-lasting agreements and more creative solutions.
Watching our entertainment with a view to recognizing some of the myths we’ve bought into can be a powerful and enlightening exercise. This is particularly so when we uncover stories that are adversely impacting our ability to succeed on our own terms. Instead of accepting these conditioned responses, we can choose to lean in to our feminine strengths, recognizing them as our secret weapons. That’s a powerful takeaway from a seemingly unproductive activity.
I also invite you to pay attention to catch subtle warnings woven into the show’s storyline. Like when our protagonist reminds herself that “Guys never apologize … and guys don’t apologize for apologizing.” Funny throw-away line in the show, but an important life lesson. Women tend to over-apologize and in so doing we undercut our power and credibility. In fact, in an earlier article, I threw out the challenge to go on an apology fast. Bringing awareness to how often and in what circumstances you unnecessarily apologize can be a game-changer.
There are also lessons to glean in how the men in the show interact with our protagonist. One senior partner chastising our protagonist, saying, “Don’t ask permission to ask a question – just ask the f*@#ing question!” Abrupt management style, but valid lesson. As women we often feel the need to temper our approaches to be more socially palatable and in so doing, again, we undercut our power, influence, and credibility.
The show is also rife with examples where the male attorneys steal and/or take credit for Ingrid’s ideas, talk over her, sideline her, trivialize her … you get the idea. It’s important to remind ourselves that these are real world problems. Studies show that women are significantly more likely to have their ideas co-opted and to be talked over. In fact, even at the U.S. Supreme Court, they found that the female Supreme Court justices were interrupted in significantly higher numbers than their male counterparts.
Give yourself permission to binge once in a while. If you take the opportunity to explore the hidden (or not so hidden) life lessons in seemingly innocuous shows, it can be a potentially empowering exercise.
Are you looking to up level your negotiation skills?
Please enjoy my TEDx Ocala talk
- Rise of the Feminine Voice as the Key to Our Future-