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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

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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