We don’t need a day like International Women’s Day to be a good sister to other women, we should be supporting and celebrating each other every single day! Make an effort to be the kind of woman that is blamed for helping other women succeed! Here are five ways:
#1: Eliminate the Mean Girl – Gossip Girl Syndrome. There are just plain gossips, and there are those who gossip but say they are “venting” to a friend. Venting is the act of working out your feelings and leaving the conversation with a plan to address the situation. Venting has a purpose. Talking behind someone’s back is a conversation with no plan for intervention to fix a situation. Next time someone engages you, or you engage, in a conversation about another woman, ask yourself, what is the conversation meant to accomplish, to solve? There is no shame in redirecting a conversation and saying, I am not comfortable talking about “Sally” without her here. Or, I am not sure having this type of conversation will help Sally fix your concerns, have you addressed these with her? You will be amazed at how quickly people will stop coming to you to gossip after they learn you refuse to be the woman who undermines the reputation of another by engaging in gossip.
Even as adults, we can find ourselves in friendships that don’t make us feel good about ourselves. Friendships that leave us feeling judged. A close friend of mine recently share how much she valued our friendship because she felt she could share her struggles without feeling judged, and she couldn’t do that with her other friends. I looked her straight in the eye and told her real friends don’t judge, they help each other overcome. As women, we need to be supportive, not judgmental. A mean girl, a fake friend, will sabotage your dreams through passive aggressive comments or through hurtful actions. A real friend will never try and change who you are, but will accept you for you and help you become a better version of yourself. A real friend will give, not just take from you.
#2: Tell a Sister She is Messing Up. There is a saying circling the internet, “Be the kind of woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world that it was crooked.” So often when another woman says or does something wrong women don’t speak up. We shake our heads and judge them. Shame on us, by doing this we miss an opportunity to educate our sister on her behavior. By ignoring the behavior, it will most likely continue, and we did nothing to help her future. Have those tough conversations, let your sister know she is messing up and help point her in the right direction. Having these difficult conversations isn’t always easy, but they are the only way to help one another grow. Typically, women want to wear their crowns straight and don’t always have the self-awareness to know when their behavior is making it crooked. Many women tend to let relationships with other women fade instead of strengthening the relationship by speaking up and saying we have been hurt by their actions.
A few years ago, I said something at a conference that was well-intended, but it turned out to be inappropriate. After that meeting, some of the women pulled away from me and even gossiped behind my back about what I said. I didn’t have a clue that I messed up. Finally, one woman was a strong enough sister to tell me that my words tarnished my own crown. She did this so that I could fix it going forward. I was horrified that I unintentionally said something offensive. I was also hurt that the other women in the room, the ones I deemed friends didn’t correct me. A woman who hardly knew me educated me on my wrong. Once I was told I messed up, I went on a journey to prevent a repeat offense. This led to me reading a book, 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say. The book helped me reflect on all of the times I spoke words out of ignorance and helped me become more effective with my communication. Be the kind of woman who speaks up and helps other women improve. You also need to be the kind of woman who is able to accept criticism without getting defensive. Receiving feedback from a sister is not a sign of disrespect, it is a gift that allows us the opportunity to change.
“Stop making other women feel guilty for investing their time in being a good mom, a good daughter, or trying to reach another goal.”
#3 Not Having Time IS Ok. Over the last few years, there have been a ton of memes and articles stating being too busy equals being a bad friend. The authors indicate being too busy to hang out with friends means you don’t make the time to care, and a real friend would make you a priority, not an option. I am here to tell you that IT IS OK NOT TO HAVE TIME to go out with your girlfriends because you are finishing your education, working late to get that next promotion, running to soccer games and ballet recitals, or taking care of an aging parent. The seasons of life are always changing and the interaction with our relationships will change. Stop making other women feel guilty for investing their time in being a good mom, a good daughter, or trying to reach another goal.
Does it suck that your BFF can no longer catch up over drinks or blow off steam dancing? Absolutely, but that does not mean you are no longer valued in that woman’s life. It just means she had a priority shift. Be the kind of woman who instead of using guilt to pressure another woman out for ladies’ night, shows up with two iced coffees at little Johnny’s soccer game and catches up in the stands while cheering the team on. Be the kind of woman who sends supportive texts or has food delivered when she knows another woman is working late to get ahead in her career and doesn’t have time to meet for dinner. Be the kind of woman who rallies all the girls together to create a “Friday Night In” care package to take over to another woman who can’t leave the house because they are taking care of their elderly parent. Be the kind of woman who stops saying, “we find the time for what we want to do most” and understand that in life, we find time to do the things we have to.
#4 Be Inclusive. Just because we are no longer in high school doesn’t mean the anxiety of finding a “lunch table” to sit at is still not there. We, as women, need to do a better job of making sure we are inclusive. We need to do a better job of inviting other women to the conversation. We need to make an effort to invite other women to participate. No one wants “to eat alone” and we need to be good sisters and ensure we take an active role with inclusion. When you are in the workplace, your social organization, or at an event, it is easy to gravitate and hold conversation with the people you know. This is how the illusion of workplace cliques form.
When I am hired to help an organization increase retention rates, I often hear that cliques are impacting team morale. It is natural to form a circle of “besties” in the work place, start group texts to talk about work issues, laugh over inside jokes, and have lunch with the same group of people. As women, we need to look around and see who is not at the table. We need to stop saying, “she doesn’t talk to us, she only likes the guys” and invite her to the table. When women venture off on their own, or with the guys, the assumption is sometimes made that she “thinks she is too good for us” or “she doesn’t like us.” When the reality is, she never got an invitation to be included. We need to stop assuming others know that they are invited and verbally communicate that we want them there. This includes both the introverted and extroverted woman. Just because a woman is shy and quiet doesn’t mean she isn’t waiting for the invite to speak up or join in. Outgoing women are often not invited or included because people make the assumption that because they are chatty, they have a hundred invites or have no problem including themselves. Here is a little secret, the majority of women struggle with being rejected by peers and want to be included. Be the kind of women who makes a verbal effort to invite other women to the table and to the conversation. Even if they decline the first time, keep asking, be the kind of woman who thrives on inclusiveness!
#5 Be an Encourager in a World of Critics. When you hear another woman ponder the thought of going back to school, applying for a new job or promotion, starting a side hustle, or joining a new social club, be the type of woman who encourages her. Don’t be the kind of person who tells her she is crazy. Be the kind of woman who helps another develop plans to overcome barriers to her goals. Encouraging others doesn’t always come natural for some, but you can be intentional in how you respond to other women. The word encouragement has the word “courage” in the middle and that is exactly what we want to do, encourage other women to have the courage to push forward with their dreams! Be positive in your conversations about another woman’s dreams. Be genuine and simply ask, what can you do to help move her dream forward? The answer might be as simple as listening and praying for her success.
It’s easy to feel envious when another woman is successful. Although, it is important to note that you can tell a lot about a woman from the way she responds to another’s happiness and success. Stop minimizing the hard work of other women by calling them lucky, thinking you could have done a better job, or that their looks helped them out. Instead, be inspired by their accomplishment. Compliment their work and celebrate their success! The world is hard enough. In a world full of critics, be an encourager to other women.
About the Author: Dr. Candice McDonald is the founder of Success Up Life, LLC., a consulting firm bringing focus and purpose into life and organizations. She is an author, change agent, international speaker, federal special agent, volunteer firefighter, mom, and wife. Her weakness is chips and salsa, and basset hounds in need of a home (she wants to rescue them all!). Come say hello to her on Twitter @KSUCandice, check out her crazy life on Instagram @KSUCandice or check out her website at SuccessUpLife.com