What! I hear your shocked cry, Jane, the feminist, loud and proud on women’s issues and women’s career coach is now telling us to diet! Good grief!
Well, yes I am but this ‘diet’ is much better than never eating chocolate when there’s an R in the month or consuming so much fibre that you need a portable bathroom with you! This one will make you feel heaps better, not guilty and ashamed and reduced to midnight larder raiding and self loathing!
The Drain’s Diet!
Today we’re looking at getting rid of people. No, I haven’t gone all Mafioso on you; we’re not doing anything criminal but we are going to consider shedding the people in your life who add pounds to you. Pounds of gloom and doom, or guilt or angst or low self esteem or who sap your confidence, ounce by ounce (or gram by gram!).
Take a moment to think about your circle of acquaintances, friends, colleagues and family. Some of those will be true radiators (see Do You Radiate or Drain?). Those are your healthy friends; hang onto them, love and nurture them and give back what you can. They make you gorgeous!
But there’s another group of people that are much more dangerous to your health. Lack of confidence has been frequently cited as an issue for women at work and it’s not just your career that can get harmed. It can affect all areas of your life. And some people have a harmful effect on your confidence.
You probably already know what I’m talking about. It’s those people who, as they approach, cause your spirits to sink. A rictus smile appears on your face as you attempt to be pleasant. Before you’ve drawn breath they’ve launched into their standard spiel. It’s usually an extended moan about how awful ‘they’ are but with never a suggestion that anything can or will change; they are comfortable blaming others.
Or it may be much more subtle. It may be colleagues who are very good at eroding your confidence at work by commenting, in an apparently pleasant way, on your last presentation, yet as you walk away you feel uncomfortable. It may be something like “I was interested that you thought it useful to pick up on the stock figures today; I was thinking security was more pressing but good presentation”. Damning with faint praise!
Sometimes these drains are members of our family, or even our boss. Now you can’t avoid those, and you probably can’t change their behaviour.
But you can change yours! And when you change your behaviour you may see a subtle change in their behaviour. You have enormous power to change how you feel about what they say, how they drain you. You can choose to slough off the extra psychological weight they try to add to you, often unwittingly.
The Drain Exercise
First you need to spend a few moments working out who the drains are. Write a list. Then think about what it is they actually do that has the negative effect on you. This may take a while but it is important to know what it is if you’re going to neutralise its effect on you.
Now you make a choice. You can take a very direct and assertive approach with your moaning folk, for example, and actually tell them that you don’t like moaning about other people as it’s unproductive a and makes you feel bad. Ask them for suggestions as to how to improve the problem (assuming there is an actual problem). Be careful not to put them down, just make reference to the moaning not to them as individuals. (Take a look at ‘How to Increase Your Assertiveness‘). Or you can choose to give them a limited amount of your time but let the comments waft over your head. Don’t get sucked into the negativity; it’s energy sapping and totally unproductive.
The confidence sappers are a different category. They are much more subtle but recognising what they are doing is halfway to dealing with it. If the disguised criticisms are made privately you can choose to smile and move on, mentally noting that you must be doing something right if they feel a need to put you down. You’re a threat somehow and generally speaking women with no talent are not seen as threats. Cripes, they’ve almost paid you a compliment!
But if they are doing this in public it’s likely a response is called for; if you stay quiet when your work is subtly criticised you leave people with that unfavourable impression. Think about this in advance and prepare your riposte (be careful though and don’t blurt out your prepared witty comeback when they haven’t actually been critical – it does happen!).
Your response can be quite simple as in, “Thanks for that, yes, I’ve done some research and the issues of stock control are really high on the agenda just now.” We women tend not to like confrontation but if we don’t respond we run the risk of being seen as weak. Don’t get drawn into a public argument but do make sure you assertively make your point, in an objective way. And actually agreeing with someone can show a high degree of confidence, if you do it appropriately. The higher your profile within an organisation the more likely you are to receive criticism so learn to deal with it gracefully and don’t let it be a weight around your neck…or thighs or midriff or anywhere!
Lose the drains and radiate!
Photo Credit: Tanya Price
Posted on August 3rd, 2011 by Jane