Do you need a thicker skin?
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
Dr. Anne Perschel
If I had a magic wand or the hands
of a plastic surgeon — and I have neither — I would grant professional women thicker skin.
This added dermis would prevent us from wasting time recovering from negative feedback, off-side looks and
words said behind our back that penetrate a thin skin. Thicker skin
would enable more women to step up, to lead and to get to the top.
While conducting research on women
and power, Germane Consulting asked more than 200 professional women to choose
between their desire to "be powerful,” to be "well-liked,” and to be "with a
powerful partner.” Fifty percent chose powerful, 34 percent preferred
well-liked and 16 percent opted for a powerful partner. Thicker skin would
change these odds. It would reduce the pain of feeling "they don’t like me” and
enable women to opt for roles that call for doing the right thing over the
"like me” thing.
Related: "Can women be authentic
I’ve wasted time fretting over
someone who said something that stung and I know many professional women who do
likewise. In fact, during a recent corporate sponsored mentoring event for and
by women, Elisha Finney, CFO of Varian Medical Systems,
who serves on a number of boards, declared her own 24-hour get-over-it rule.
She gives herself 24 hours to fret, worry, review, emote, and/or obsess about
what happened, or what didn’t happen. After that she forbids herself to engage
in thin-skinned thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
I too have learned to shed
or avoid those who lay waiting, stingers at the ready. And if I do get stung, it
doesn’t matter for long because I’m going somewhere important and haven’t the
time to waste.
How do you grow thicker skin? Practice. Be your own counsel. Listen to your inner voice. It knows.
Those who rent space inside your
head will have their say. Thank them for sharing their views. Then see the part
of yourself — let’s call her "Maggie" — who has been paralyzed by
these voices. Notice her age. She is younger than you are. Ask Maggie to
allow you to be in charge. Think of
yourself as the CEO of you. Assure Maggie you are capable
and strong. Give her your word that you have her best interests in mind, then watch as she hands you the reins. Take them.
If you have children, reference
the emotional muscles you developed when, over and over, you decided to do
right by your children. Recall the strength it took to override their tiny, but
very loud, skin-piercing voices, screaming for what they wanted. Recall their
tears, tantrums and name-calling. Recall that neither you, nor your sense of
what you needed to do as a mother, was diminished. Recall that strength.
Now use it to lead, to do what’s
required, not to win a popularity contest.
Anne Perschel is a leadership psychologist with Germane
co-founder and chief inspiration officer at 3Plus International, a
career lab for high achieving and high potential women.
Views expressed in signed blogs
and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and
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