This week the theme with my coaching clients was when and how to stand up for yourself.
As women, we are always told to stand up for our ideas and values. I continue to read articles that say women back down too often.
On the other hand, my female clients tell me their problem is picking their battles.
Their problem is knowing both:
- How to stand up for themselves in a way that doesn’t make other people wrong (unless that is the intention).
- When to not take a comment or action personally and let it go.
The first problem deals with the tone and reason for standing up for yourself. In working with the archetypes, one of my clients found she identified with the Warrior too often. Whenever someone suggested something that triggered her to react, she took out her sword and cut off their head with her words.
On further exploration, she found that when people didn’t agree with her well-researched work or they kept presenting a different perspective with no attention to hers, her brain interpreted their interpolation as disrespect for her intelligence and a devaluing of her experience.
First, we worked on her awareness—sensing the anger in her body before she opened her mouth. When she could catch this, she would then breathe and choose one word to focus on. In this case, it was the archetype she wanted to develop—the Collaborator.
With this new perspective, she asked more questions before she went on the attack. Then she could determine if there needed to be a comparison of perspectives she could then use to work toward a compromise OR if she needed to take a more direct approach. If she then surmised that her position was not being valued, she could choose to stand up for herself with a more direct message or question to determine why her position was not being taken seriously.
Second, working on her awareness also gave her room to determine if the comment that triggered her anger was worthy of her energy. Some annoying people are not really harmful. And sometimes one question can clarify the true intention of someone’s actions or words.
One of my clients was angry at her boss for not inviting her to a dinner that the rest of the team attended. When she asked about it, he gave her the name of the administrator who created the list. It was an oversight that had no personal meaning. Be careful of assuming the worst.
This leads me to the last tip—assume good intention. Even if you aren’t feeling compassionate, can you first assume good intent? This will open you to being more curious than reactive. From this perspective, you can best choose your battles.
What tips do you have for choosing when and how to stand up for yourself?