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10 Phrases You Should Swallow When Talking To Strong Women

10 Phrases You Should Swallow When Talking To Strong Women

In this day and age, it is hard to believe that strong women are still paid less than men for doing the same work, they are more likely to be the victims of violence, especially perpetrated by someone they know and they are less likely to hold positions of power in business and politics in comparison to their male counterparts. For many, feminism is still a dirty word despite the movement being responsible for the emancipation of half the human population. We still have a long way to go. We can all contribute to a more equal world simply by being more aware and thinking about how we value women. We can start by watching the things we say to them directly and whether you are a man or a woman yourself, we have all internalized sexism and are likely to participate in common faux pas.

Here are 10 phrases you should swallow when talking to strong women:

1. Have you lost weight?

Although probably intended as a compliment and many strong women will say this to each other, drawing attention to a woman’s body shape by commenting on it is never okay. It implies that your approval matters; it doesn’t. A woman’s body and what it does or looks like is nobody’s business but her own. She doesn’t need your endorsement to look a particular way and you are better off commenting on her strength, her kindness or her success than on what she looks like. Women face enough pressure to adhere to a fabricated ideal of beauty.

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2. Smile, you’ll look prettier

This usually occurs on the street by strangers after they have whistled or cat called. It also happens at parties, in bars or anywhere that unwanted male attention is rejected. It implies that the woman is surly or unhappy within herself, instead of responding to the unwanted and intrusive attention. She doesn’t have to smile. She doesn’t have to be pretty. She doesn’t have to do anything in order to please you or make you comfortable.

3. When are you going to get married/have a baby/have another baby?

Inviting yourself into a woman’s relationship or her uterus is a no-no. When you ask a woman when she is going to get married or find a mate and settle down, you are telling her that she is incomplete or inadequate on her own and needs another person to validate her. Similarly, asking a woman about her reproductive status is essentially asking about her menstrual cycle, her sexual activity, and ignoring her right to privacy. For all you know she might have faced challenges such as infertility or miscarriage and she is not obligated to discuss these things with you upon your inquiry. This information should be volunteered by her, not extracted by you.

Also, she may not want to do either; get married or have children and implying she does is imposing your desires on her life not hers. Whatever strong women decide to do is not of your concern. If they choose to share that information, by all means share in their joy or tragedy, otherwise wonder in silence.

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4. You look tired

She probably is. Strong women work hard, but don’t tell her in not so many words that she looks haggard. Again, by commenting on her appearance, you are measuring her based on a superficial ideal not on her real worth. It is often an attempt to express empathy, it’s just misguided. Maybe instead of telling her what you think she looks like, ask her how she is feeling? What has been happening in her life? If she wants to disclose her troubles, she will. Better still, treat her to a leisurely lunch or a nice massage. She will definitely appreciate it.

5. Don’t get so upset

Telling a woman that she is overreacting is demeaning. It diminishes her feelings and dismisses her ideas and reactions. This is particularly condescending if she is upset because of something you did or said. You may be truly concerned for her and don’t want to see her unhappy or angry, but validating her feelings and working through a disagreement or a bad experience together is more valuable. Website Power of Positivity suggests saying something like “You seem very passionate about this” or “What do you think we should do about it?” This will ensure the situation does not escalate and tells her that she is entitled to feel what she wants, her feelings are warranted, but you don’t want to see her hurting.

6. It’s not lady like to swear/sit like that/dress like that

Pardon? No. Lady schmady. Strong women can curse. Language is just that. It is not a measure of her morality and she can express herself as she pleases. We need to stop telling women how to speak. She can sit however she wants and take up as much space as she wants (yes even if she wants to sit with her legs open; men do). She can wear whatever she wants; as much or as little. She can wear a bikini or a burka and what she wears does not determine how she deserves to be treated. Australian Feminist writer Clementine Ford says “We deny women any agency when it comes to their clothing. We assume that if they dress in particular ways they either secretly desire unwanted attention, or that they’re too stupid to realize that they’re dressed like walking billboards for sex and therefore need other people to carefully guide them through the rocky shores of life.” Daily Life.

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7. Be careful going out by yourself at night

Whenever we hear of a woman being physically attacked, it almost always follows the same line of inquiry; where was she, what time of day was it, who was she with, what was she wearing. This is called victim blaming and is a product of rape culture. Telling women how to behave to avoid being attacked is reprehensible because it completely absolves the perpetrator of wrong doing. Women have every right to occupy this world wherever and whenever they see fit and although it is unfortunate that women need to be aware of their own safety and take precautions; don’t worry, they know. We simply need to change the public discussion about it. We need to stop telling women that they are responsible for the wrong doing of others and focus instead on telling people who attack women to stop. doing. it.

8. Is it that time of the month?

As a society, we don’t like talking about menstruation; at least not in a positive and constructive way. We instead stigmatize it as a time when otherwise strong women are irrational and uncomfortable. Asking a woman if she has her period is an implication that she is being unreasonable or unnecessarily emotional. That she is somehow not functioning normally and needs sympathy and will not be taken seriously.  It’s time to stop demeaning and undermining women based on some outdated notion that their physical differences to men equal inferiority or requires subordination.

Strong women are reclaiming their menstruation. (Caution: Explicit Language) This smash poem by Dominique Christina is outstanding and every woman, every mother to a daughter needs to watch this and share it. Women are also having period parties these days, celebrating their daughters’ first time as something to be cherished and be unashamed about. So beware. You no longer have permission or credibility to shame a woman about bleeding.

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9. Women can be so bitchy

The idea that men have camaraderie between them while strong women compete is untrue. Men are just as competitive among themselves as women and women can be incredibly supportive and affectionate towards one another. This statement is an attempt to divide and conquer. It relies on flimsy and superficial anecdotes and intends to cause disunity and conflict in order to obtain control. It’s untrue and sexist.

10. There is no wine or chocolate in the house

Never ever say this to a woman. It is just plain hateful.

It is not that difficult to hold your tongue and to become educated about gender equality. It isn’t fickle or unwarranted to expect respect and it isn’t an overreaction to recognize the historical oppression that women have experienced. So next time you are having a conversation with a woman; it’s simple. Just think before you speak. If you aren’t sure, don’t say it. Be kind, always. And if you say something offensive – apologize and learn from it.

Featured photo credit: Walking Around Town/Kris Krug via imcreator.com

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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