Too often, when a woman speaks her mind with clarity and confidence it is deemed as aggressive, abrasive, bossy, difficult, too much and awkward. While men get all the good adjectives; honest, upfront, direct, truthful, concise, bold.
This certainly isn’t always the case, but I do believe society has a pre-conditioned notion for those women who hold their head up a little higher than the rest.
And with lockdown still happening in places such as the UK, you would think that being stuck at home probably isn’t helping the assertiveness of the female consciousness. And the news certainly isn’t helping. When, even on International Women’s Day, news channels remained rife with explanations and stats sharing how negative the pandemic has been, and still is, for women’s mental health. Bleak stats on top of quick and nimble quotes on top of more bleak stats isn’t emboldening anyone.
So, I was quite surprised when a friend and client of mine told me that lockdown has indeed made her more assertive.
London Lockdown #3 + working from home + managing two pre-teen boys attending school from home
= more assertive?
It didn’t happen through putting together jigsaw puzzles, completing colouring books or baking sourdough. DO NOT GET ME WRONG, I think these creative outlets have been great to channel ones creativity; I opted for trying to colour in the lines of a bloody flower colouring book while a few amazing friends are now experts at making the most beautiful loaves of sourdough I have ever seen, and tasted.
But, my client used lockdown find ways to work on a weakness of hers; assertiveness.
Twice a week she rolls out of bed, fills up her water bottle and logs into Zoom to start her morning with me. We spend an hour together stretching, mobilising, and working on her strength and conditioning.
On occasion we speak about her work- it’s a pretty full on gig. She’s a portfolio manager and trader within a firm that deals with selling hundreds of millions of pounds worth of stock. Before lockdown, working in an office and industry dominated by men, she would often times be less inclined to speak up in the office. As the only woman on her team, it’s only natural to feel overpowered and intimidated by the men she was surrounded by.
But as we’ve continued to work together through lockdown, both her confidence using weights and her confidence amongst her colleagues increased. If she already shifted some weights she once thought impossible to pick up, who’s to say she can’t shift large investments and speak her mind with confidence and gusto?
Her newfound physical strength can’t take all the credit though. It wouldn’t be a lockdown work related write-up without a shoutout to Zoom. Ah yes, that means to an end; equal parts nuisance and saving grace to both our work situations and social ones.
How did Zoom assist her assertive boost? It’s simple. The overbearing nature and presence she sometimes felt amongst her colleagues in the office no longer was a threat. The playing field is reduced to everyone’s home base. And the only cards to be dealt lie between ones ears.
According to my client:
“Lockdown helped me become more assertive because being on screen rather than in a physical setting makes it easier to speak up. Also, being able to fit in exercise before work instead of commuting has helped my mental strength and stress. Which in turn has helped my self-confidence and assertiveness.”
What’s more? She used her newfound assertiveness to find a way to network.
Um, how? Everything’s shut down in lockdown.
She got to walking and talking. She reached out to clients, colleagues and even competitors and invited them for socially distanced walks. Networking and getting her steps in. Pretty bloody simple but also pretty bloody brilliant.
What’s more, my client doesn’t believe her assertiveness will disappear once the virtual barriers are removed. She plans to bring her increased awareness and assertiveness back to the offices, and hopes other women will too. It might be a small step for women’s equality but it is still important one.
This is just one short story of a woman asserting herself and making the most of a difficult situation.
While we’ve all hated lockdown for plenty of reasons, many women have persevered. Two friends of mine have bought their first houses, two became life coaches, one is homeschooling her kids while working on a book and another continues to build her nutrition business whilst preparing for a masters program.
Keep inspiring ladies! And, as Glennon Doyle says “we can do hard things.”
Happy women’s day!