In a world where it's assumed men are the real competitors, in business and in sport, women have a competitive inclination that is rarely acknowledged.
Females have the ability to make a sport out of the simplest of social interactions. It's not something we brag about, because that would defeat the purpose. Among the many games we women play, some are more deeply ingrained than others. Though I don’t believe females are always aware that they are participants in these foolish frolics.
Take for example the "word games" we like to play.
It's not uncommon for a women to...
Indicate what she really wants, in the form of a question.
“Now why are you loading the dishwasher that way?"
Say something that appears to be a compliment.
"Wow! Your hair is getting sooooo long."
...But just might not be.
"I love that skirt - every time you wear it."
( I'm quite certain the term "Bless her heart" was also derived from the mouth of a woman.)
We always seem to have the words to say. Even when the're not asked of us. And often when they’re not necessary. In the dialog department, we tend to complicate things. (Shocker, I know.)
(Someone tell me why this never seems to be a problem with guys? The internal, mental Olympics of mind games that affect most female interactions, on a daily basis? )
The ironic thing is, with all the unnecessary words we manage to pack in a sentence or two, when it is actually time to speak up, we often stay quite. In the poignant moments, when our opinion is asked of us, we seem to be at a loss for words. And most commonly in the workplace.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Woman in a Meeting: “I have to say — I’m sorry — I have to say this. I don’t think we should be as scared of non-fear things as maybe we are? If that makes sense? Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling."
“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”
It’s painful just how accurate this interpretation is of the female verbal processing. This may come across as an archaic concept - a woman unable to speak her mind- but we tend to ramble and for some reason think that when addressing co-workers (particularly male co-workers) that by explaining our thought process in every minute detail, our ideas will be better received. Which is ironic, since the moment they start hearing every minute detail, they’ve already clocked out. Fewer women in an office does have its perks: one of them being that meetings are quick and to the point. (Yes, that was a sexist remark.)
We know women don't have a problem speaking, but the problem at times may be translating clear and concise thoughts, confidently.
Personality studies such as MBTI and Myers Briggs even show, whether a woman leans more towards an F (feeling) or a T (thinking) personality-type, that “a woman is still likely to have ‘a typical female perspective’ on the world,” regardless of her personality type. Meaning women see everything woven and interconnected, while men can more easily compartmentalize life, and therefore compartmentalize thoughts and words. (My parents like to call this the Pancake and Waffle Theory: women are like pancakes, in that they take in all maple syrup of life at the same level, at the same time, while manly waffles can easily separate the syrup into neat and tidy compartments.)
In settings from the bar to the conference table, men can be uncannily candid with each other, never ruffling one another's feathers. There's not a lot of word games. (Because there's not always a lot of words.) But in a similar setting when a woman is as honest and to the point, as a man, the response from men can often feel like "Whoah! Don't cross her."
Being a vocal female, particularly in the workplace, is not always welcomed. Which could impact the length to which a female goes to express herself (and express herself, and express herself), necessary or not.
It seems to be assumed, for the female who has no problem saying what she thinks, when she thinks it, that she recites Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In to herself in the mirror, works out to Spotify playlists entitled Beyonce's "Who Run The World... Girls." and daily hashtags #GoHill.
While the jury may still be out on why many women shy away from boldly speaking their opinions in such settings, or feel the need to explain and defend every thought, there may be a few common areas that hold the confident female back from rightfully sharing her opinion.
First off, we’re people pleasers.
Well... most of us.
(Let's just say, if that were the case, I'd probably have more dates throughout my week and less jobs on my resume.)
While I certainly wouldn’t call myself a “people pleaser” many women would say they are. And in seeking to please people we are often seeking to agree and think like others. Making us very insecure in our thoughts, and unsure of ourselves. Therefore, what you say, and more importantly what you think, may often vary with what others are thinking around you.
Secondly, we make decisions often based on feelings. (That whole pancake theory? It's just a little difficult not to personalize every vocalized opinion, when a women is involved.)
Yes, women are feelers and often make choices based off of emotional inclinations. But being emotional ought not be undesirable. True, it's not always the best route in making choices, but it is an indication of time and heartfelt consideration that goes into every decision, both good and bad.
Lastly, we're as unsure as men.
The only problem is we're not as egotistical as men. So we don't hide our insecurity quite so well. It is actually the one thing women are brutally honest about.
While men may boldly mask their painful insecurities, we tend to flaunt ours as if to raise a flag of surrender in battle. While there are, without a doubt, feminine qualities that should always grace the unique way a woman speaks, when it comes to intimidating scenarios that require a brief and clear response, where our thoughts can be heard and received, we could learn a thing or two from the boys in how to speak our minds.