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15 Things Women Don’t Need To Do Though They’re Expected To

15 Things Women Don’t Need To Do Though They’re Expected To

My husband once pointed out a bumper sticker that said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” I know he’s proud of the bad girl in me.

There are a lot of things women are expected to do that they don’t really need to do. Fifteen is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s amazing how many rules there are that women ascribe to – just look at any magazine and you’ll find the list plastered to the front cover. So what happens when women don’t follow those rules? Shame, shame, shame? You become a social pariah? NO! It’s not true. Women who don’t follow the rules have tight friendships, strong communities and a lot of fun being themselves. The women I know who don’t clean their house, match their socks or wax their nether regions are joyful, successful and FULL OF LIFE.

An example of this is my friend, Masha, who absolutely fascinates me. She is a Russian expat and university professor of Political Science who has a partly shaved head; wears mismatched, brightly coloured clothes, tends a garden full of gnomes and disco balls, and uses the walls, ceilings and floors of her home as a gallery of stickers, graffiti, sparkles, painting, and the art of her friends and kids. Her home is frequently a jumble of toys, art and dirty dishes but is also one of the happiest place I go. She is the queen of the neighbourhood and there is no one she doesn’t know by name from beggars to bankers. By being herself, to the full extension of her ability, she has become much loved and respected. On top of that wonderful dividend for living an authentic life – she’s got a handsome, intelligent husband (who would drink her bath water) and two really great kids.

Here is a list (partly inspired by Masha) of things women are expected to do that I think should at least be optional and at most be banished from the guidebook.

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1. Be Nice

Women are often expected to “be nice.” One of the worst things women do is be “nice.” Nice is not the same as kind. Kind is good. Nice… there is a legion of things nice girls don’t do (most of which are a lot of fun). Kind women – they can do anything and do it with grace, dignity, humour, courage and still get laid on the way.

2. Keep Up With Fashion Trends

Contrary to the so called women’s magazines, women really do not need to buy the latest this, that or the other and you don’t have to spend your fortune on Jimmy Choo shoes or whatever is most fabulous this year. Finding your own signature style is fun and can bring beauty to your world but you don’t need to waste your precious resources – time and money – on what is hot this year.

3. Sit With Your Legs Together

Women can sit however they like, wherever they like. Have you ever sat on a bench with a man? He will spread his legs like eagle wings. I am absolutely certain this is a way of asserting dominance – like a cat who arches his back. Look how big I am, why I can’t hardly contain my package! Women, however; keep their legs tightly glued together for fear of… what? Why exactly is it unladylike to sit with your legs akimbo? As long as you are neat and clean and well advised why not take up a little more room. Lean in? Spread out!

4. Apologize

So many women I know apologize for existing, for entering a room, for speaking. “I’m sorry, is this a good time?” The apology is extraneous. “Is this a good time?” is thoughtful and that is all you need to be. When joining a conversation women will often apologize instead of saying, “excuse me.” Excuse me is polite and that is all you need. Try keeping track of how much you apologize (you won’t be sorry you did). Unless you hurt someone – don’t apologize.

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5. Explain

If you want to paint your house pink, smoke pot, learn Spanish or take a year off to travel the world, it’s your own damn choice and you don’t have explain it to anyone. You don’t have to tell the waiter about your root canal – just order water with no ice. You don’t have to justify shaving your head – get thee to a barber. You don’t need an excuse to go back to school at fifty: call up enrolment, enrol in an acting class and don’t tell anyone why you’re doing it. You don’t need approval. They only time you should explain yourself is when you’re late and even then an apology (as above) will do.

6. Clean Your House

Cleanliness is not next to godliness. It’s important to prevent the spread of disease and keep out varmints but other than that disorder can be a charming sign that you have more important things to do – like read books, hike, have sex or drink wine. Laundry is an excuse to be creative with your wardrobe. Toys everywhere are the signature of a happy childhood. Dirty dishes mean you had to get upstairs with that very attractive man (or woman) you share space with. Get up there. The dishes can wait. 

7. Have Kids

Not everyone should have kids. It doesn’t mean the childless are loveless or selfish. It means you don’t want to parent. That’s not so bad (I can testify to the sleep you will not lose and the “Dora” you will not have to watch). Do your thing and find fulfillment and love in the way you choose to live your life. I have kids. It’s been a great thing for me. It has made me a better person. It may not be that way for you. We are not all the same. We don’t need to be. It’s not a badge of honour to have a child nor is it a badge of honour to be childless.

8. Work Outside The Home

For a long time I thought work outside the home, ambition and success were very important. I had a revelation when I had my second child and stayed home. Suddenly, for the first time ever, I felt at peace. I lost anxiety. I spent more time outside and I didn’t give a damn about leaving my mark or making a difference. Small things became my joys. It’s not a perfect life but it’s a peaceful one. Working in the service of others is very rewarding for me. Becoming a better cook, playing kitchen hockey with my 3 year old son, talking with my 85 year old mother-in-law and learning the art of domesticity has been a great boon to my emotional life. I feel free. Our family is lucky to afford this. It is also a choice. I can if I want. I want.

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9. Work Inside The Home

Women don’t have to feel obligated to stay home with their kids or without them. It is still a topic of conversation and people forget that it’s not a new one. Most women in the world have to work. Since the beginning of time it has taken a village and historically, most children have been raised by extended family, friends of the family, boarding schools or a nanny (often, someone is minding the nanny’s kids). Taking care to provide for your children while taking care of your own needs teaches kids they can do what they want or need to do to find their own happiness. It ain’t easy or balanced. It requires juggling and it requires attention. It’s the choice you and your family make. Don’t let anyone judge you – especially you. File a formal complaint against the police in your head that shame your for your own nature. That’s police brutality and it has got to stop.

10. Wear A Shirt

My lovely stepdaughter shocks a lot of people in the summer time. She will strip off her shirt when playing volleyball or go for a swim in just her bottoms. She’s hot (in temperature, temperament and she is beautiful). She likes to feel the sun on her skin. She’s trained herself not to care about the sideways glances. Good for her. It is hot and they’re just baboo (as our sons call them). What the hell is going to happen if women take off their tops in North America? Bikinis are nearly as revealing and last I heard nipples don’t spread infection or cause world wars. I once joined her once on a barren secluded beach (I’m much more reserved than she is). Let me testify: the sun felt great!

11. Wear A Bra

Isn’t it the best feeling in the world to take your bra off, after a long day and whip it out through your sleeve? Oh my god. Isn’t it nice to walk around your house without the straps digging in your shoulders? If you don’t need it for comfort see what it’s like to go for a few days without your bra. Heaven. So, the neighbours talk. If they’re those kind of neighbours – they’ll talk anyway. Why not give them a little sugar for their coffee?

12. Wax Your Legs (etc.)

The etc. sure does hurt. I am a shaver of legs and to be honest I’ve really struggled with it. It makes me look little girl – hairless. I don’t like the social implications of that. I do, however; think it looks better. I have bought into the aesthetic. I buy into it for me. You do what you like to do – wax or shave. It should be a choice. The thing that really gets me is waxing the nether regions. That really hurts. It hurts a very sensitive place. Even after childbirth I can’t tolerate the pain and don’t think I should. Ouch. Leave it alone.

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13. Speak Quietly

Many women believe they must be soft spoken and that the sound of a woman’s voice, when loud, is irritating. Keeping your voice soft means it’s harder to hear you. That can be a good tool if you want people to pay attention but if you can’t be heard you will be ignored and you are not part of the conversation. A high, pitchy voice can be irritating and it also indicates a lack of confidence. It’s easy to fix that. Speak from your diaphram. It will make your voice warm and powerful. Voice lessons help and they do more than strengthen your voice. They are a really great for feeling emotionally connected and strong. I highly recommend taking a voice class.

14. Act Like A Lady

Good manners are important. I thoroughly believe this. I set a nice table, chew with my mouth closed and respect those around me. What I object to is all the things ladies are told they can’t do. Most of them are fun. Most things ladies can’t do actually open doors for women. It seems incredibly outdated to me to be told that there are things a lady does and does not do. Women now go into locker rooms, drive cars and wear pants (all ridiculous things once considered unladylike). In certain parts of the world these things are still off limits. No one should be limited and sisters have got to step up and say it should not happen anywhere. In jolly old England a BBC executive actually banned female presenters on children’s shows from wearing red lipstick because it sends the wrong message. I don’t think my three year old son speaks lipstick so luckily he’s not getting that message.

15. Agree With This Post

You don’t buy into this. You think women should be nice, keep up with fashion, sit with their legs together, apologize, explain, clean their house, have kids, work inside the home, work outside the home, wear swim tops, wax from top to bottom, wear a bra, speak softly, act like a lady and disagree with anything I’ve said. Go forth and be your own self! One thing women do not have to do is follow any kind of direction from any kind of article by any kind of person they don’t know.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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