A few weeks ago I was leading a women’s assertiveness class with a fabulous group of women. In the class we practice assertive behavioral and verbal skills both personally and professionally. The women in the class were highly accomplished professionals, yet still struggle with asserting themselves and leading their teams. One woman kept calling herself “Earth Mama” and suggesting that earth mamas don’t assert themselves.
Her viewpoint is a common one that I hear from women. Many women have labeled themselves (or been labeled by others) as sweet, kind, loving, etc. Thus they have picked up the erroneous belief that you can’t be the loving, kind, earth mama and still be assertive. These women believe you are either earth mama or a raging b*@ch. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The spectrum isn’t “syrupy sweet” to “nasty mean girl”, nor should it be. Assertiveness isn’t a lack of kindness in women, as it certainly isn’t for men. So many women have been raised to be “good girls.” Within that statement is the message that asserting ourselves isn’t being a good girl. Good girls are quiet, they do things for others, they put others first, and they don’t ask for what they want. In other words, sweet earth mamas who won’t be good leaders if they don’t add some assertiveness to that mix.
Becoming An Assertive Earth Mama
The earth mama in my class was holding tight to the belief that she couldn’t lead her team in any way but as a passive, loving earth mama. Yet her boss was now telling her that she wasn’t performing to her ability. She wasn’t asserting herself in meetings and she wasn’t sharing her vast knowledge with the team because she didn’t want to be too pushy. Her employees were not receiving the tough feedback that they needed in order to improve. Earth mama is lovely, but she’s not going to go much further if she doesn’t make some changes.You can both assert yourself and be kind at the very same time. #assertiveness #leadership #careerdevelopment Click To Tweet
Here is where women need to push out of their comfort zones. We need to push past our own and other’s beliefs that assertiveness is a bad thing. If you haven’t learned how to assertively ask for what you want or how to give your opinions or feedback, it’s time you learn to do that. Start practicing right now! Earth mama can assert herself, and it will be in her and her team’s best interest to do so. Don’t buy into the belief that being assertive isn’t being kind! It’s not true. You can both assert yourself and be kind at the very same time.
Earth Mama is going to be one kick-butt leader as she starts to incorporate assertiveness into her communication with others. That assertiveness is the difference between being passive Earth Mama and becoming powerful, high-achieving Earth Mama. Which one would you rather be?
Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC
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by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC
Certified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.
I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.
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