Can You be TOO Feminine?
I have a client, I'll call Julie. She's a beautiful and fit woman that I'm working with on the phone. She's polite and sweet and extremely smart. I enjoy her immensely and she's working with me to get better social skills and so she can work better with men.
I guess I'm pretty good at this. I grew up with a mom who had 8 brothers. My dad had 7 brothers and I have 2 brothers of my own. I have a sister too but when I was younger I was the girl in the neighborhood who would compete with the boys while playing kickball or pickle in the front yard. I liked to win. My sister was more into crafts and sewing. I picked those up later, but was never as talented as my sister in domestic things.
I was the one who had to learn how to be feminine. I was always "one of the boys" until college when I realized that I wasn't being treated special by the guys at all. They were rough and tough around me and didn't hesitate to talk down to me either. I remember once in college I felt I'd had enough. I was a freshman and hanging out with the football players. They all liked hanging with me but when it came time to ask the girls out for a party, I was the one stuck at home. I decided to change that in the blink of an eye.
I no longer went to the cafeteria to just hang out every night. I ate at another location and basically didn't reappear for another month. When I finally decided to make an appearance.. I was a bit coy about where I'd been. I had lost a few lbs but didn't show up in sweats any more and didn't laugh quite as loud as before. Guess what happened? They all asked me out!!!
I finally realized that to be treated like a QUEEN, you have to BE A QUEEN!!! It was a lesson I never forgot and it's allowed me to be treated well in business and my personal life my whole adulthood. I demand to be treated well. I leave if I'm not.
So, MY lesson was how NOT to be ONE of the boys!!! The lesson my CLIENT is learning is to BE one of the guys!
First of all, what are the advantages of being a woman in business who can 'yuck it up with the guys?" Well, there are times where she's going to be their boss. She's going to be the one bearing bad news, or the one praising them, or the one selling to them. If she feels comfortable and can be their friend, then there won't be the uncomfortable tension that sometimes happens between men and women in business.
Many women who didn't have the advantage of growing up with brothers or being an athlete view men as a mystery. They haven't figured out how to talk with them (to the point and share INFORMATION, not STORIES ) and they haven't learned how to be treated well by them. (confront them for bad behavior or dump them!)
But how can a woman, who is used to being so feminine get to the point where she is comfortable with the men?
I read a passage from a great book to my client today. It's from "Women who Run with the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
"Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society's attempt to "civilize" us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped."
YES!! This is what she needed to hear. I actually told her she could try being more MASCULINE. I challenged her to go to a few rodeos, whoop it up with some cowboys who ride bulls, go to a few sports games and sit with the rowdy folks, wear jeans, drink beer, go camping, get her hands dirty, take pottery lessons, and do some loud belly laughing!
She was amazed! No one had EVER told her that she could try being more MASCULINE in order to get along better with men. I assured her that there would be NO way that she'd turn into a man eating monster but that she'd just get the "feel" for what its like to be more comfortable with that wild part of her nature that she wanted to nurture.
She loved it. I did too. It's something I'd never really coached on but it was definitely a lesson that I'd like to give to women who are too stuffy, too conservative, too suppressed, too domesticated or TOO FEMININE.
Being feminine lady is a wonderful thing?. but abandoning your 'masculine side' will make you slightly uncomfortable and fearful in the presence of others. While men will appreciate your sophistication at a dinner party, they may avoid you while cutting lose. We've all heard how much business is done on the golf course. That's because people do business when they feel comfortable with others.
So ask yourself.. are you comfortable with others in every situation? If not, then push yourself to be in situations that potentially make you uncomfortable. When you can be comfortable with being uncomfortable, you are on your way to making others comfortable too.
And that is the BEST trait of a sophisticated lady!
Mary Gardner, The Charisma Coach! is an Executive Communications Consultant and Trainer. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She owned and operated one of the first coaching institutions on the east coast, CCI, in NYC, Philly and NJ. Mary has appeared on ABC's 20/20 and has self published a book on public speaking. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5, and lives in Orlando, FL.