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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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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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