"I just don't like working with women. They are so catty. I'd prefer to work with men and when I look around, all of my friends are men, too."
she said to me over coffee. "I used to feel that way."
I responded. "Then I realized that the women I didn't like were more like me than I thought they were. Somehow rather than reject them, I embraced them."
It took me years to demonstrate my support of women, especially when a woman was unkind to me at work. It is extremely challenging to work with someone you don't like, or worse, with someone who openly dislikes you.
No one likes feeling angry and rejecting another. Frankly, I've reached the point of my own existence where I don't want to feel angry. It takes energy to do that. Over the last five years I saw that how I viewed other women had maximum impact in terms of how I treated them and specifically if I supported or rejected them.
It's all backwards. I look outside. I judge or come to conclusion, and the irony is nothing is outside. It's all how I see it.
My perception is not a truth. It's just some fable my mind spins and makes up.
Few people are bold enough to spend time working on how they see the world and situations. Most will spend hours, days, years and an entire lifetime trying to change what's going on outside and frankly, I gave that up. I cannot change anything outside but I can perpetually work on how I engage and how I think about another. It's one thing to dislike what someone does, but it's not good to dislike the person.
Yet we all do it. We all look to the outside to fix and focus on. For example: Trying to get the right body. Trying to get a good marriage. Trying to get love from our kids. Trying to be the overachiever at work. On and on it goes but we aren't satisfied.
As women, we do it different.
When we perceive a threat, especially from another woman at work we automatically come to a conclusion:
Boy, is she fat.
Wow. Nice hair.
She isn't a good mother. Did you see what she just did with her kid?
She acts like that for men's attention. How pathetic.
Total garbage in our minds. Yet, it's there.
So how do you overcome the reflex to reject another woman?
Look at your initial thoughts about her when you first come into contact with her. What you will find is that 99% of what your mind tells you about her isn't even true. It's just thoughts.
Here are five ways to bridge your mind into unity with other women:
1) Be Open To Changing Your Mind
Be open to considering that whatever you think or don't think about another woman isn't the absolute truth. Often when we encounter another woman we are very quick to judge and label her to elevate ourselves. When those thoughts come up, look at them. Ask, is that true? You may find that you start to question what goes on up there in your head.
2) Be patient
You may embrace a woman and she may automatically reject you. Be patient. Maybe you triggered something in her and she is slow to trust. Maybe no other woman has reached out to her and she doesn't know how to receive. Be open. Don't reject back in retaliation. Don't get out of the boat. Keep rowing and invite her into the boat.
3) Practice by saying one small compliment
For the last few years I purposely reprogrammed my thinking. When I do look outward at another woman, I find one good thing about her. For example, in an airport I told a woman that she had a great piece of jewelry on and how well it went with her outfit. I'll never forget her response. Her whole face brightened. She thanked me and then said she actually woke up in a horrible mood and this small gesture made her entire day. This small practice helps you to cultivate the good thoughts and to find what's right. The mind will always gravitate to what is wrong. Don't take the bait.
4) Be Empathetic
Your ability to relate is the most important skill you can develop. Practicing empathy when a woman lashes out at you is the hardest thing you'll ever do - but it's the biggest moment of your life. Rather than react back, think about how you may have felt in that situation. Conjure up a time in your life when you felt angry or hurt and how you lashed back. Then look at her again. I bet you see her differently. Treat her with love when she is the most angry, the most ugly and the most hateful towards you and you may find that she melts with the love you pour on her. Empathy is not pity and should not be exercised if you are being abused. Have discernment and know the difference.
5) Publicly Support Another Woman At Work
When you see her in the office, no matter how you feel or if jealousy presents itself in your mind, support her. In meetings, support women - openly and verbally if you agree with their point. Find women that are polished and educated but need support at work and rally around them. Look for ways to embrace the younger women, but don't overstep with advice that is really a mask for judgment. Stretch yourself. Support women that you don't like at work, but do a good job of moving through your feelings about them.
Sophia Nelson of "The Woman Code" put it perfectly. "True sisterhood cannot be forced. It has to be developed over time. Not every woman will be your best friend, nor should she be invited to be in your inner circle, but every woman is deserving of your respect and support if only in the form of a smile."
This article was originally published on LinkedIn
Elizabeth Lions is an international speaker and author on career management and leadership.
She is the author of three books, 'Recession Proof Yourself' and "I Quit! Working for You Isn't Working For Me" and a third book was released in 2017 on leadership and is entitled, "Hear Us Roar - Unapologetic Women Leading in Corporate America".
Many of Elizabeth's clients are women in male-dominated fields, who are looking for a crash course in how to lead and navigate the office. Many were passed over for promotions or not given the respect they deserve before encountering Elizabeth's message. Elizabeth has designed and developed leadership and career management courses which have been given in the US, Dubai and the Middle East.
Elizabeth has read over 100,000 resumes in her career and hired thousands of professionals in some of America's top organizations, among them Intel, Fiserv, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Precision Castparts and AT&T. An expert adviser on career conundrums, Elizabeth is well known in the press, and has been quoted in Yahoo, The Ladders, and Dice job boards. Her words have reached as far as the front page of the Philadelphia Tribune, PBS, CBS Money Watch, Dale Carnegie and John Tesh's blog.
Bottom line: Elizabeth knows why someone is hired, fired or promoted - which is invaluable to women in today's climate. Understanding how to get along and get ahead in the office is top of mind for today's women of Corporate America. Elizabeth provides clarity where there was once confusion.
Today, Elizabeth can be found writing, coaching and collaborating with the who's who of the Corporate America. When she isn't working, Elizabeth can be found traveling across state lines with her husband on their Harley Davidson motorcycle or in the yoga studio twisting for hours on end.
For more about Elizabeth's philosophies, programs and videos, please visit www.LIONSOLOGY.com