Stop Giving Your Power Away
In conflict, women often unconsciously give their power away, especially to the powerful people in their lives.
These women wind up feeling frustrated, resentful and doing way too much, relegated to working in lower positions, trying too hard to build businesses, and suffering in relationships that are unsatisfying.
Is this you? Do you:
Apologize often, almost reflexively?
Nod, smile and agree without bringing forward your point of view?
Laugh at what’s being said even if you don’t really register it as funny?
Move out of someone’s way and then reflexively apologize for being in their way?
Sure, it may have some positive benefits. You get, what? Positive attention? Better assignments from your boss? Don’t get yelled at or blamed for problems? You might be thinking, why should I change?
Well, it also has some costs, significant ones. You don’t claim and own your own point of view, your voice, or your authentic power. Your career or business relationships, and your life, stays, well … mediocre.
Zoey is highly educated, very accomplished, and comfortable being a number two person to many powerful people. She started her own business, which after two years was far from breaking even. Zoey was stuck doing her day job.
She tried everything to increase her business success, but nothing worked. To grow her business, she purchased marketing programs, hired business building gurus, and even joined a non-profit board to help her make connections in the community.
I met Zoey when I attended one of those board meetings, as a potential new board member. What I saw told me all I needed to know about why Zoey was struggling in her business.
During the board meeting, the Chairman, a 65’ish successful businessman. dominated the discussion by telling story after story, tangentially related to the board topic and always about him. This was a man who was used to being paid attention to, which is exactly what Zoey did.
She smiled, nodded, leaned forward and laughed, supplied a word or phrase when he was grappling for one. Her unceasing attention was painful to watch. When it came to giving out board assignments, Zoey was the first to volunteer to do work.
I quickly realized I was not a good fit for this board. I also sat there wondering why this smart, accomplished woman was so agreeable and effusive with the chairman? Did she really agree with everything he said? If so, we had very different preferences. Or, was she reflexively giving her power away to a man in authority to avoid conflict?
At the end of the meeting, I walked up and gave my card to Zoey and said while I wasn’t interested in joining the board, I could help her in her business.
When she called, I told her, “I believe the reason your business isn’t successful is because you keep giving your power away. You think you need to please people to be successful, but it’s actually backfiring.”
She was curious, and I started coaching her.
Her tendency to give her power away was an engrained pattern from her relationship with her father. To break the pattern, I helped Zoey cultivate a sense of safety in her own body and her own voice, without the approval of a powerful, authoritarian man.
It worked. Zoey became more self-confident and was much more judicious regarding who got her precious attention.
She stayed on the board because she cared about the cause, but when the chairman talked too long, she looked away. She turned down the wattage of her smile and didn’t laugh unless what he said was genuinely funny to her. She even started to disagree with the chairman and other powerful people in her life, including her husband and her father.
Nothing bad happened! In fact, she got more respect!
Within that year, Zoey started her own podcast. She had a unique point of view which not everyone agreed with, which made her even more interesting. Her business started taking off and she was able to leave her day job. YAY!
Do you give your power away? Do you avoid conflict at all costs? You may be unnecessarily holding yourself back and it could be costing you dearly in your career, in your relationships, and even in your health.
Do you want to find your voice and take back your power? Drop me an email and we’ll get you going!
P.S. Why not check out our new book The Beauty of Conflict to learn how to deal with conflict more effectively both at work and at home.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.
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