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12 Things Women With Hard Shells Want You To Know

12 Things Women With Hard Shells Want You To Know

Women with hard “shells” are strong, independent, empowered women although frequently complex and reserved. They are differentiated by their individual capabilities and interests, yet, share similar attributes. What do women with hard shells have in common? They are not status quo. They’re self-confident, uncompromising relative to their virtues, unpretentious, and well-established with deep-seated convictions.

The woman with a hard shell knows that, “True strength lies in her ability to embrace her feminine core, and whilst she may be a high achiever, and whilst she may be very intelligent – her real strength is in her true femininity. And in her character.” (Renee Wade, A Strong Woman)

Being misunderstood and falsely labelled is a regular occurrence for women with hard shells. Here are 12 things they want you to know about them, character traits that will help you learn the truth about who they are and what makes them tick.

1. They are phenomenal women who seem cold, conceited and intimidating sometimes – it’s just a display of their composure.

Sure, women with hard shells put up walls and come off as icy and indifferent; however, they do so to shield their characters and emotions. You see, it’s not that they lack feelings; it’s that they are predisposed to the side of caution. These women have been around the block a few times; they’ve been there, done that. Experience has taught them to protect their hearts and to guard their mental health and morale. Therefore, they naturally assume liability for their own emotional security.

Their passions run deep. The depth of their feelings makes them fragile, unable and sometimes just plain unwilling to express how they truly feel. If they respond curtly to your comments or to your compliments, it’s because they’re internalizing their appreciation that you thought enough of their contribution(s) to say ‘thank you’ or ‘good job,’ and they’re thinking about how to serve even better next time.

They hate being embarrassed and generally talk at length about their circumstances only with those closest to them. Thus, they will put forth every effort to show you how they feel. Watch out for what their actions reveal. In doing so you will find that women with hard shells are not daunting and unapproachable. Their guarded communications and associations are merely outer protective apparel that life has taught them to wear.

These women have endured a lot of challenges in life. They know what they want; they know what they don’t want. They can pretty much tell who’s genuine and who’s not. Thus, they tend to cut to the chase — be direct and businesslike. They endeavor relentlessly to excel without the need to bounce on anyone in the process. They demonstrate faith in themselves and realistically value their worth having invested consistently in their personal growth and professional development. As a result, they are self-confident and composed, not conceited or threatening.

2. They accept who they are and use their strengths and opportunities as leverage for peak success.

Many people, to their chagrin, try to be someone other than themselves. Not women with hard shells. They are good with who they are. They know themselves and appreciate their significance. They have become familiar with their strengths (talents or things that they do well; are good at) as well as their weaknesses.

These women are aware that their strengths escort them to true success. They center goal setting and activity planning on their strengths, and then on those weaknesses that inhibit their progress. Initially, they made the mistake of focusing efforts on beefing up their disadvantages first. Now they recognize that the power of leveraging comes from taking their assets and utilizing them to convert their weaknesses into strengths.

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Women with hard shells want you to know that focusing on strengths and related opportunities enables them to highlight the position where they produce best. The outcome is personal branding, increased performance, satisfaction, resourcefulness, and success. By using their strengths to do what they are good at, they have less stress, enjoy incredible accomplishments working less, earning more, and becoming experts in their chosen field.

3. They are realistic and noble; leaders, not followers, as evidenced by their drive and accomplishments.

Women with hard shells are progressive. This forces them to be shrewd, proactive, sensible, pragmatic, and unafraid of challenges. Because of their leadership aptitudes, they are not among those who follow the masses. They are not crowd pleasers, but rather choose to think, speak, and act according to their own expertise and awareness. They are not the ones who will agree with you just to placate you or keep the peace.

You will find these women to be skilled and able to stand alone, perceptive to realize when they necessitate assistance, and bold in requesting that needed help. They are coordinated and orderly. They’re prompt to acknowledge and to apologize for their imperfections, blunders, and shortcomings. They know of a certainty that no one is perfect including them.

As leaders, women with hard shells are quite familiar with the courtesies of forgiving and being forgiven. They know well that they stand to gain a whole lot more peace and freedom via forgiveness than by internalizing the discord, becoming bitter and resentful. These qualities are priceless particularly for those who become leaders, because they are able to maintain fruitful, harmonious work environments with their staff.

4. They live to satisfy their own morals and beliefs; yet, they respect the freewill of every man and woman.

Sound, well-founded principles are the essence of women with hard shells. They are quick to contend for their views when necessary, giving full regard to the rights of those who share a different opinion. These strong women have no problem standing alone in defense of their positions. If necessary, they will oppose persons with whom they are closely affiliated. They don’t live for other people’s acceptance; they live for a clear and just conscience, and a good night’s rest.

Hard-shelled women have faith in their own abilities. They want you to know that they do what they are convinced is proper within the appropriate parameters regardless of what other people perceive. Therefore, they are extremely cautious in their decision making since they detest being wrong and embarrassed. They abhor causing harm to others.

Despite their best efforts, they know that things don’t always go as planned; things don’t always go as anticipated. When their best efforts yield less than choice results, women with hard shells remind themselves that they did the best they could with the resources available. Accordingly, they overcome; they eliminate remorse, guilt, shame, and adjudications.

5. They are resistant to criticism as they work hard to keep their powers strong, their visions alive, and their fears in defeat.

Women with hard shells want you to know that they were not simply born as strong women; instead, they developed their strength of character over time by rising above adversities and rejections. They have become empowered to survive well and thereby find it difficult to be obstructed by destructive criticism. With strong faith and diligence, they keep fear at bay; they maintain a flourishing hope and mission.

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Their success is built on proper training, appropriate skill sets, firm willpower, dedication, and concentration. That’s the stuff that keeps dreams fresh, vivid, and visual. Exciting concepts and imaginations that become actualities following toil, sacrifices, sweat, and tears cause hard-shelled women to be unmoved by their haters and naysayers.

Fear has its place in their lives; however, they are not controlled by it. Fear pushes them to limits unknown and stimulates innovation and creativity. It shows them that they are capable of a great deal more than they comprehended. Engaging in fear and defeating it produces muscle, endurance, and triumph.

6. They are usually quiet and private individuals who have no need to meddle in other people’s affairs.

Albert Einstein stated that, “The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” Women with shells want you to know that they live by design, they live with purpose and intent. They live low keyed, discreet, private lives. This allows them to focus, discover and excel beyond their wildest imaginations.

Quiet time helps them discern their needs versus their wants. It allows them to review open action items, to analyze unsuccessful endeavors, broken hopes, and shattered dreams. It gives them undistracted moments to think about activities they can do differently or better. Introspection permits time to ponder on whether or not they’re moving in the right direction. Taking a little downtime provides for relaxation and for planning weekend getaways and special vacations.

Women with hard shells want you to know that how they react to you matters a lot and vice versa. In their private moments they consider this, too. They really want you to know that since they are so involved with taking care of their own business, the desire and time for gossiping and butting into the affairs of others are alleviated. However, they are willing to lend you a helping hand when needed.

7. They are classy, well-maintained human beings who, like others, are vulnerable at times.

Strong women with hard shells are predictably a class act in more ways than one. It’s pretty obvious they pride themselves on dressing well, looking well, acting well and working well. They radiate style, confidence, and intelligence.

These are the women who choose not to dress down on casual Friday, or on every day as is allowed by some companies. Whether they’re a perfect 10 or a pleasantly plump 16, they know how to make the best of their figures, to dress appropriately, and look fabulous. These women assure that they not only look presentable, but that they also perform at top capacity.

Even with their refinement and elegance, women with hard shells want you to know that they, too, are defenseless at times. They are normal human beings. Their guards are not always up. Their observations are not always accurate. Sometimes they get let down, left holding the responsibility for breakdowns… they get hurt and abandoned, too.

8. They work, often behind the scenes, to help make life better for women as well as for other people.

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Do you know any women with hard shells? I bet you do. They are those ladies who work diligently to enrich the lives of others. Being relatively generous with their resources, they support women’s shelters, dress-for-success platforms, life coaching for women, job fairs, community activities, and many other events. They’re those compassionate women who strive to enhance living conditions for persons in distress.

These strong female caregivers help men, women, and children succeed and do well. They need no public recognition or praise. It’s important to women with hard shells that you realize they are not haughty, arrogant, or uncaring. They are movers and shakers for the good of many, but they do their good deeds quietly improving lives and giving hope wherever they go.

A strong woman, is one who feels deeply and loves fiercely. Her tears flow just as abundantly as her laughter. A strong woman is both soft and powerful. She is both practical and spiritual. A strong woman in her essence is a gift to all the world.” (Author Unknown)

9. They believe that a woman should not sit around expecting a man to build the life she desires; this attitude is irrational and selfish to them.

Men and women have different purposes and abilities. For women with hard shells, it is imperative that they assume wholesome relationships with men without adding the burden of egotistical dependency. They believe it is their responsibility to achieve their strategic ambitions. This just makes sense to them. They consider sitting around looking for someone else to create the life of their dreams to be absurd and too risky.

Women with hard shells are ecstatic when their men do things for them. Nevertheless, they refuse to wait for their men to do what they can and should do for themselves. These women undeniably believe in and commend the strength of the men in their lives. They also believe in undertaking personal initiatives to obtain personal aspirations. Each individual requires a certain substance in life that must come from his own efforts.

Hard-shelled women want you to know that they cherish the opportunity of depending on their men when they really need to, of growing with them, and of enjoying life with them. They want you to know that they are thoughtful and endeavor to live life without being overbearing and insensitive. They love their men sincerely, and they know how to have great fun as they sport an authentic sense of humor.

10. They are optimistic, resilient, considerate, and true friends; they don’t depend on outside evaluations to assess their worth.

Women with hard shells think positive and upbeat. They are sure to acquire what they want because they are sensible and work hard to deserve it. Still, these women do fall down; they get thrust into hardships. Instead of becoming downcast because of their failures and allowing disappointments to spoil their agenda, they employ their bounce back power. They perfect their efforts, land on their feet; utilize the experiences to grow and to move forward.

These hard-shell women want you to know that this resilience stems from their ability to look beyond present conditions and become inventive. They struggle, work very hard and find breakthroughs amid obstacles and inequities to generate new realities. Nothing seems impossible to them; thus, they finish strong. Observe that these times of difficulty birth incredible strength in them.

Optimism, flexibility, and determination exercised during distressed situations made them self-assured, understanding, and thoughtful women. Hard times and survival confirmed their power and worth sending them to heights they never considered possible. As a result, they listen well to advice but make their own final decisions. These qualities are the reason they make phenomenal friends mutually sharing loyalty, honesty, reliability, and exceptional friendships.

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11. They desire robust, intellectual, well-adjusted men for equally satisfying and lasting relationships.

Women with hard shells are tough, autonomous, and often unyielding; however, they are still human. They, too, long to have that special someone in their lives for friendship and companionship. Like other women, they want a friend, a soulmate and subsequently a spouse to have and to hold until in death do they part. Career success and financial freedom are incomplete if you don’t have a meaningful person to savor them with. Joy and happiness are to be given, to be shared.

Hard-shelled women wish you to know that they, too, want strong, vigorous, well-versed partners who can talk with them intelligently. They enjoy conversing about things of substance that enhance lifestyles and offer comfort. The ideal partner compliments their maturity, self-confidence, and visions. They have developed their own goals, achieved their own success and thereby do not in the least bit require their approval in pursuit of security and independence.

Hard-shelled, strong women want companionship, but not at any cost. They give excellent respect, admiration, sincere accolades and encouragement expecting to receive the same in return. According to James Michael Sama in 12 Things to Expect When Dating a Strong Woman:

You will never be happier than when you are with a strong woman, because she lives her life with a burning desire to make the best of it. She loves deeply and will motivate you to become the best possible version of yourself — while remaining the same man she fell for in the first place. Do not shy away from strong women, and do not be intimidated by their passion for life. Instead, be excited that you have found your teammate. You have found your partner in crime. You have found your equal.”

12. They are conscientious, focused workers who refuse to be distracted; they know how to say ‘no.’

If you’ve been around hard-shelled women, you know that they are hugely ambitious. They are single minded with specific objectives that sustain their heartfelt visions. Having achieved multiple degrees from the University of Hard Knocks and priceless lessons learned, they are proficient to meet inevitable challenges and setbacks. Learning is a continuous effort for these women who thirst for knowledge and continuous improvement. It is a crucial source of empowerment for them.

Women with hard shells wish you to know that they can’t afford to wait around for indecisive procrastinators. They won’t delay their task assignments nor will they pause for the approval of other people when it is unnecessary. They won’t mislead you, make false promises or agree to anything outside of their character. As Jessica Devlin articulated, the woman with a hard-shell “knows how to say no and does it unapologetically. A woman who says no and means it is honest. She won’t tell you yes to appease you.”

Synopsis

Women with hard shells care about others and tend to influence people positively with no hidden agenda, without expecting anything in return. People often read them incorrectly misconstruing their buoyancy, poise, assertiveness, and forte for arrogance. They seem aloof, unfriendly, or standoffish to many. However, many are kind, approachable, hardworking, and dedicated to being women of excellence.

The woman with a hard shell says, “Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing it ought to make you proud. I say, it’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care. ‘Cause I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” – Excerpt from Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

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Featured photo credit: Politico.com & AP Photos via s3-origin-images.politico.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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