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Treating Relationship Power and Aggression
Because of early social pressure to be good girls and little ladies, women get the message that being confrontational isnt acceptable. Often in a negotiation, women hear their inner voice say Speak Up, but many squelch these messages because of upbringing and the early lesson discouraging complaint. Women have been socialized to avoid verbal confrontation more than men and to speak more politely.
Everyone is susceptible to these basic differences between men and women. Even if you think you personally dont fit the typical mold for your gender, youre sure to negotiate with men and women who do.
The following sections contain four strategies for women who want men to hear them. If you practice one of these strategies each week, youll quickly alter the way others perceive you. The prerequisite is to start listening to yourself. Awareness is the first step to any behavioral change. Accept and grow, or be left in the dust in this hardball world of negotiating. These strategies are based on making yourself heard in present-day negotiations in which the successful role model has been, up to now, a no-nonsense, concise leader.
#1: Avoid apologies
If you dont have confidence in what you say, how can you expect anybody else to have faith in you? Listen to yourself or ask a trusted friend. If you find that you have this damaging habit, start practicing today to get rid of it. Remember, awareness is the first step to behavioral change, and you are now aware.
a just a few examples:
#2: Be Brief
Women bond through stories. You walk up to a woman you hardly know. You say, Gee, I love that pin. Its beautiful. And she says, Thank you, and proceeds to tell you the story behind the pin, because there is one. Women have a story for every piece of clothing and jewelery on their bodies. They have a story for their haircut. Some of them have stories about their hair color. You find something in their story you can relate to and tell her a story back. If you have enough stories in common, you will bond. Men may arm wrestle to build a relationship. Women talk to build a relationship.
Women generally use more details in their conversations than men. The information you want the male listener to hear may be lost in all the details. Watch for signs that a male listener is glazing over and cut down on the number of words immediately. In fact, tell men right at the start how long the story will take and stay within the allotted time. Men feel they are responsible for the energy they allot to a certain activity. So they feel they need to set their energy clocks, so they dont run out of energy. Running out of energy makes them feel out of control - a feeling they hate.
#3: Be Direct - dont hint
#4: Avoid emotional displays
The place that start curtailing emotional displays is on the job. The crying person seems to demand a sympathetic response from the listener. Someone who is sobbing also signals to the listener and observers that, for the moment at least, this person is not capable of handling a situation. Crying also annoys and angers people who have shut off their own feeling. If they dont want to deal with their own feelings, they dont want to deal with anyone elses. Men may feel a woman who cries is being manipulative.
If you feel a cry coming on, excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, cry your eyes out, take a deep breath, and go back to the meeting without risking that particular mistake. If you are prone to crying, be sure you carry eyedrops to remove the redness from your eyes.
When Love Goes Wrong, Ann Jones and Susan Schechter, Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
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