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She Says Girls Should Be Taught About Bravery, But Not Perfection

She Says Girls Should Be Taught About Bravery, But Not Perfection

Girls are often caught up in a web of confusion surrounded by status quo definitions of who and what they should be. Strong women rise above engraved definitions and challenge the status quo.

Some may not reach goals they aspire to, yet this does not fall in the ‘boxed’ definition of failure. It is about being brave enough to counter the challenge. Women tend to focus on positions and careers that they know they will excel in, which limits their vision. That is an avoidance of risk or failure. Smile, play safe and get the straight As. Stay closeted in a safely defined zone.

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Boys are taught to rough it up, climb and jump away. When they become adults men keep taking the risks and rising to challenges, asking for a raise or a date. They get rewarded. So in essence, we raise girls to venture to perfection and boys are taught bravery.

There are many reasons why girls need to be taught bravery. In an  annual Vancouver conference, Reshma Saujani shared a powerful vision in a talk “Teaching Girls Bravery, Not Perfection“. She cited research conducted on fifth graders by Carol Dweck, a psychologist. The findings revealed that intelligent girls gave up quickly on a difficult assignment. Boys with high IQs related to the difficult material as a challenge and increased their effort. Girls who outperformed boys in every subject not because of their ability, but because of their manner in approaching challenges.

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A Hewlett-Packard report indicated that men applied for jobs even if they only met 60% of qualifications. Women would not attempt unless they were fully qualified. This report clearly shows that women lack confidence.

According to Reshma Saujani, it was evidence that women are socialized towards aspiring to perfectionism, making them overcautious. They tend to take fewer risks. There is massive expansion in the technology and computing industries, yet women are being left behind as they have been socialized to reach perfectionism.

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The examples of girls achieving by learning to be brave in supportive networks are massive. Girls who have been socialized to imperfection keep trying. They learn perseverance. They reach their goals.

Here are some ways to help girls and women gain confidence and display bravery:

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  • Girls need to confront the notions engraved of female fragility. The media and societal views must be challenged that represent assertive women as destructive or unfeminine.
  • Celebrate accomplishments of competent women.

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    • Classes for child rearing would promote approaches that are not limited to gender stereotyping.
    • Ask girls what toys they would prefer. They may want a truck instead of a doll, or a chemistry set instead of a jewelry box.
    • Girls need to learn skills defend themselves and make points without apology.
    • Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
    • Decision making needs to be shared with girls in a home and at school. Girls need to be shown that their voices impact their lives and the lives of others.
    • Equal participation of girls need to be a requisite in all youth and public forums.
    • Girls reserve the rights to strive freely, take risks and take pride in successes.
    • There should be no acceptance of, “I can’t” or “I won’t.” Help girls with confidence to say they will try.
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      • Girls should be given platforms to speak without being interrupted .
      • Avoid the notion of ‘rescuing’ girls. Encourage them to be imperfect, to pursue goals, to make mistakes, to get disheveled and dirty.
      • Girls must accept and appreciate their bodies.They must be taught beauty comes in all forms, shapes, colors,and sizes. Encourage focus on strength, flexibility and health.
      • Enable them to become critical of the media, taking into account the portrayals of women and girls in commercial songs, movies, and television. Question portrayals of how female characters are judged.
      • Applaud girls for successes, efforts and skills. Keep praising them and showering them with confidence.
      • Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world. They should let off steam by punching pillows or yell out or visualizing and relaxing. Offer self-defense training and sports to promote strength.
      • Girls need to be encouraged to join in unison to improve neighborhoods and schools and every setting they feel unsafe in.
      • Girls need  preparation to take ventures of  interesting work towards economic independence.
      • Girls need an introduction to women role models who are able to balance work, volunteering, family and personal life.
      • Provide girls with an opportunity to explore roles reserved primarily for boys, like carpentry, holding snakes or constructing an electrical circuit.
      • The myth of ‘Prince Charming’ coming to the rescue must be debunked.
      • Discuss family financials openly with girls included.

      Spread the word to sisters, nieces, colleagues and employees that girls need to be comfortably imperfect. Teaching girls imperfection will build  a bravery and heal the world, making it a better place for all.

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      Nena Tenacity

      Screenwriter ∕ Filmmaker

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      Last Updated on May 21, 2019

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

      For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

      If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

      Example 1

      You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

      You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

      In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

      Example 2

      You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

      People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

      You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

      Example 3

      You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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      The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

      Example 4

      You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

      Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

      If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

      Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

      • Understand your own communication style
      • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
      • Communicate with precision and care
      • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

      1. Understand Your Communication Style

      To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

      In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

      Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

      2. Learn Others Communication Styles

      Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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      If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

      “How do you prefer to receive information?”

      This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

      To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

      3. Exercise Precision and Care

      A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

      On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

      Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

      I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

      I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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      In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

      The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

      Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

      4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

      Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

      In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

      “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

      Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

      Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

      It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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      It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

      It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

      Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

      Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

      The Bottom Line

      When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

      I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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      Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

      Reference

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