|BossWoman eNews – March 2005
Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
Welcome to the March 2005 edition of Susan Robison's free
e-mail newsletter for women business owners, executives, and
Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about
leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a
difference. If you are on this list you have been a client,
an advocate, or attended a workshop. Pass this newsletter on
to others who might be interested. This e-mail list is not
sold or exchanged. Details on subscribing (and unsubscribing)
are at the end.
In this issue, you'll find:
- Act Like a Woman Not a Girl
- BossWoman coaching
- Up and coming workshops
1. Act Like a Woman Not a Girl
“Don’t let ‘em treat you like a girl.” That was the advice
LeRoy Weber gave to his daughter Liz Weber when she told him
she was going to shop for her first car. He was acknowledging
the inherent sexism in commercial interactions where women are
assumed to be naïve and lacking in power. He was reminding her
that she was a smart consumer who knew how to do her homework,
negotiate, and hold her ground.
Now years later Liz Weber is a consultant and professional
speaker who has written a book entitled, “Don’t Let “Em Treat
You Like a Girl: A Woman’s Guide to Leadership Success.” Liz
asked professional colleagues, men as well as women, to give
their best tips on how women can use their personal power in
their leadership roles. Liz’s concepts really resonate with me
since I have often spoken and written about how women throw
away their power and then expect others to “empower them.” Liz
goes a step further and exhorts her readers to stop acting
“girly” by dressing provocatively, giggling, flirting, and
using gender as an excuse with statement such as “I’ve changed
my mind. It’s a woman’s prerogative.”
You’ve Come a Long Way Baby
During March we celebrate national Women’s History Month –
time to reflect a bit on the history of women in America. I
grew up in the era where calling a female person a woman was
considered an insult. The term “woman” was reserved for the
elderly (as in “that older woman down the street”), the
size challenged (as in “the women’s sizes are in that
section), or a low class person (as in “the cleaning woman”).
Other females were either “girls” or, if they had money and
wore white gloves, “ladies.”
For younger readers, it may be hard to imagine that being
called a girl was supposed to be a complement (as in “His
wife and the other girls from the office are going out
tonight”). In reality “girl” could also be a derogatory term
implying a put down of class or rank (as in “Have your girl
call my girl to set up an appointment,” or “she is just a
shop girl”). In other words female people didn’t have a cool
term to refer to themselves. By the way the term, “female,”
wasn’t anything you would want to be called because it
usually implied something gynecological (as in “She had
(shush) female surgery”). When I taught what I think may
have been the first women’s studies psychology class in the
country in 1970, my male university colleagues referred to
the course as “Female Problems.” It was definitely not meant
as a complement.
In my youth I decided the best alternative to the lack of
self-esteem promoting terms would be to think of myself as
a lady. I didn’t have any money or come from money so I
wore white gloves everywhere and plotted ways to make money.
White gloves were very practical in a gritty city prior to
the days of pollution control. I wore a clean pair of white
gloves when I rode public transportation to my summer jobs
downtown. The gloves were filthy by the end of the rides
home. On dates, I wore white gloves. The Ice Princess image
might have scared off a few hand holders but when I took off
my gloves it meant I really wanted to hold hands with that
special someone. My college years were spent at a university
that had gone co-ed just 10 years earlier and the faculty
had not quite figured out what to do with us girls, uh-er,
women, uh-er females. So our teachers addressed classes
with “Men, this semester we will be covering…” A supreme
teacher complement on a philosophy paper was “You think
like a man.”
We’ve come a long way. Now we can be women and be proud of
it. We might still refer to ourselves as girls (as in “Just
the girls from the office are going golfing”) but it is
more sociable and affectionate and not insulting. However,
we still have a long way to go. Sometimes professional women
act “girly” and throw away their power and then get insulted
when they are treated as powerless. Here are some behaviors
that throw away our power and some recommendations:
- Dressing in feminine, provocative manner in the workplace.
Liz Weber suggests saving the cleavage and ruffles for
parties and dates. In the workplace, dress for your work.
Wear attractive but non-fussy clothes that fit what you do,
suits for office work, jeans on the construction site. I
know many women business owners in non-traditional fields
such as construction and environmental waste who need to
dress in clothes that allow freedom of movement to climb
around a worksite.
- Using a “girly” voice that whines, has a high pitch, or
structures that researcher Dr. Deborah Tannen calls
“qualifiers” such as “kinda” “sorta” “justa.” Instead use
your woman voice. Ask for what you want instead of whining.
Use the lower range of your voice by learning to breathe
and project appropriate volume. Offer ideas in meetings
without hesitancy. Interrupt. Yes, interrupting can be
rude but I heard former cabinet member Madeline Albright
recommends that her women students learn to interrupt.
Since men interrupt more than women, one way women can be
heard better in mixed groups is to strategically and
appropriately interrupt to get their ideas out there. If
you snooze you lose; if you wait politely, you don’t get
heard. (P.S. This one is still hard for me.)
- Misusing your body by tossing your hair, fiddling with
your jewelry or clothes, and other gestures that call
attention to your sexuality. Liz Weber suggests using
your body to represent yourself. -Pull up to your full
height. Stand with good posture, neither stiff nor
slumped. -Make eye contact. Even Princess Di stopped
peaking out from her bangs as she matured. -Shake hands
with your whole hands not just the finger tips. Greet,
don’t crush. Hand shaking is an ancient greeting ritual
that shows the stranger you are meeting that you are not
carrying weapons in your hand. Finger tip shakes come
across as sneaky or hesitant.
The most common goal I hear from coaching clients is that
they want to increase their self confidence. I often ask
them about sports they have never played and ask if they
are confident about playing them.
“Of course not. How could be confident about something I
know nothing about?” they reply.
“Then why would you expect to be confident about your
new job or about parenting a teenager if you have never
done it before?”
There are two kinds of confidence, specific and general
confidence. Specific confidence comes only through
getting good at something. To gain specific confidence
you must do the skill and get feedback that you are
improving. If you practice the wrong thing you will only
get better at doing it wrong. Feedback makes the
difference between 30 years of lived experience and one
year lived thirty times. Confidence follows experience.
To expect the opposite is psychosis. You will be
exhibiting a delusion of grandeur when you say you can
do something you have never done. Expect to be tentative
until you get good at the new skill.
On the other hand there is another kind of confidence
that is more general. Liz Weber refers to this kind of
confidence as a “can do” attitude that expresses
openness about taking risks and a willingness to learn.
This attitude does not presume knowledge or experience
that doesn’t exist but does presume that you have
learned other skills through dedication and hard work
and that you are willing to repeat that process with a
new skill. General confidence results when you generalize
your life experiences and apply them to new situations.
It comes across with some of the voice and body tips
listed above. Everyone, even women starting out in
careers, have life experiences to draw upon. Past
lessons from family, school, sports, and other job
experiences have transferable skills. For example, women
who have spent some time away from paid employment to
raise children can transfer home management skills to
other work. My mother used to refer to herself during her
home-with-children years as a “domestic engineer.”
Comedian Rosanne Barr uses the term “domestic goddess.”
Living Your Power
What if you already felt powerful, what would you be
doing? What if you were 10 times more powerful, what
would you do then? In case you can’t think of any ideas,
I have some suggestions.
Use circles-of-influence power.
Use language power.
- When you need to get something done, who can best do it?
Hint: maybe not you but someone you know or someone who
knows someone. *Keep in touch with not only friends but
with acquaintances. Ask them what is going on in their
ives and how you might help. Tell them what you are up
to and ask for help. When Madeline Albright was the U.S.
representative to the United Nations, she started an
small informal group made up of all women representatives
from other countries. They vowed to always take each
other’s phone calls. As she and the other women rose in
power in their governments, international work got done
outside of the normal hierarchical channels through
those phone calls.
Use money power. You’re not a girl anymore if you own a
credit card and pay the bill.
- Learn the technical lingo in the cultures you are part
of. If your doctor prescribes medicine, ask the name,
the generic name and what it is being prescribed for.
If you take your car in for repairs learn the main names
of the “thingy in the front that make that clump,
- Say thank you when someone complements you. Don’t insult
their taste by arguing about whether or not you did a
good job.*Get to the point. If you are giving a report,
write out the main points. Even if you don’t use your
notes, the exercise will tune up your brain so that you
don’t ramble and waste everybody’s time.
- Be concise unless you are explaining something
complicated. One of the most annoying woman I ever met
used to ask, “Do you know what I mean?” at the end of
every sentence. Everyone wanted to scream, “Yes, we
know what you mean, get on with it.”
- Eliminate fillers unless you want to sound like a Valley
Girl. I’m referring to these annoyances:
“like” (as in “I said, like, so what do you want to do?”)
“right” (as in “So he drove down the street, right, and
“you know?” (as in “So he drove down the street, you know,
and then he…)
and my all time favorite, “goes,” (as in “So I goes, ‘Do
you want to have coffee?’ and she goes ‘Well I guess so.’”)
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said
that “Telling people you are powerful is like telling
them you are a lady. If you have to tell, you aren’t.”
- Ask for and earn what you are worth. Two of my coaching
clients are earning 20-35% more this year because they
asked for what they were worth. Neither would have done so
without the support of coaching.
- Own your money by making a spending and savings plan
based on your values. Revise as needed. Hire experts to
help you if you don’t know how to do this.
- Give some money away even if you think you can’t afford
to. You will influence social causes that matter to you
and send out the confident energy that you are a woman
of means. Adjust your tithes and contributions as your
circumstances and values change.
Just in case, I still have my white gloves.
If you don’t want to be treated like a girl, act like a
Happy Women’s History Month!
Liz Weber. “Don’t Let ‘Em Treat You Like a Girl: A
Woman’s Guide to Leadership Success” Available from
the distributor at
http://www.DontLetEmTreatYouLikeAGirl.com as well as
from Liz's office, Weber Business Service, LLC, at
http://www.wbsllc.com or 717-597-8890.
2. BossWoman coaching
About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a
professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader.
She loves to coach women who want improvement in:
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life,
give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour
- work-life balance,
- career transitions,
- building your business or practice,
- time management,
- increasing productivity.
She provides keynotes and seminars to business and
organizations on the topics of:
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session
because she knows that workshops don’t work.
- leadership strategies for women,
- work-life balance,
Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar
needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.
3. Up and coming workshops
Topic: Permanent Whitewater: Dealing with Change and
Date: March 29, 2005, Part of an all day conference for
women in federal government
Topic: Working Successfully with Couple Clients:
Staying Sane in Insane Places.
Date: May 12, 2005 Part of the Education Conference for
the Maryland state association of Financial Planners.
To start receiving the BossWoman e-Newsletter send an
email with “Please send BossWoman” in the Subject to:
BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational
and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be
construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling,
psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.
© Copyright 2005 Susan Robison. All rights reserved.
The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit
or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a
single word is changed, added or deleted, including the
contact information. However, you may not copy it to a
web site without the publisher’s permission.