Last week I caught up with one of my friends, and during our catch up we started to talk about work. She mentioned a performance review she’d had with her manager, and during our conversation she said that whenever she was doing well, her manager would appear to try to bring her down by failing to compliment her results and by picking fault.
Although I was saddened to hear about how my bright and brilliant friend had been treated, I wasn’t shocked. Unfortunately I have had multiple conversations with my girl friends about how a female colleague (in all types of industries) has reacted in a negative way to them, especially when they achieve any kind of success. I too have experienced hurtful reactions to promotions and achievements at times (albeit rarely), but I can vouch that the encounters leave you angry, wounded and questioning what you ever did to deserve such comments.
I could write a whole post about gender differences in the workplace, but let’s just say that women are still climbing an uphill battle. So why then as women are we not doing more to help lift each other, rather than trying to trip each other up?
Life coach, entrepreneur and author of “Girl Code” Cara Alwill Leyba believes it might be envy at play. She explains that all is not lost if we really are struck by the green eyed monster (and let’s face it, we all know girls who seem to have it all together that we wish we could just be a little bit more like…) but in these situations, rather than trying to bring her down, we should be using her as inspiration and looking to learn from her.
A woman doing well is not burning the bridge behind her…she is lighting the way.
It might sound cheesy (and easier said than done!), but the sooner we realize that her success is not our failure I honestly think it could revolutionize our workplaces but also our own personal lives. Comparison is the thief of joy, and I would imagine that we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others, especially in a work setting. Imagine the work we could do if we became totally engrossed with comparing ourselves to ourselves only! The only aim should be to be better than you were yesterday.
Seeing others do well can bring up feelings of fear in us that because that opportunity has gone to someone else, that it won’t be available for us. I take a lot of comfort from knowing that what is meant for me will not pass me. If it’s something that I want really badly and it doesn’t work out, then maybe it’s not right for me, right now. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever get there and it doesn’t mean that my colleague (male or female!) is any better than me, just different.
So what can we do to start to change the culture within our workplace and within our lives? Well, next time you see a colleague who is doing seriously great work, tell her! Send her an email and let her know that she inspires you. I’d hazard a guess that she’ll be working her ass off trying to do a good job and a bit of recognition is always welcome.
That being said, I bet that we can all think of a time where someone has given us a compliment and it’s not felt sincere, so if you are still in the “I’m so annoyed” phase – don’t say anything yet, recognize that her work is bringing up these feelings and explore what you action you could take to get closer to where you want to be. Giving a compliment from a good place will feel better for you, and for her.
We are seriously all in this together and I cannot say thank you enough to the women (and men) who have given genuine and heartfelt support along the way. Kindness is not a sign of weakness in the workplace, in my opinion it is absolutely necessary to build a strong foundation for us all to make amazing things happen.
I hope you like this post, and if you do I would be so grateful if you could share it with your family and friends. As always please get in touch by commenting below or find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
For further information:
Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba
Book review – “Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur” by Cara Alwill Leyba