What is the single thing that prevents a woman from using her influence?
Being a control freak? Being manipulative? Or being a bitch?
No. That’s not it.
It’s the fear of being seen as a control freak. The Fear of being seen as manipulative. OR The fear of being seen as a bitch.
Fear is a conditioned response. According to Webster’s, it is the sensation of ‘expectation with alarm.’ That means we associate fear with emotional and physical sensations. Remember influencing this situation? Chasing after – yelling at your little girl not to run into the street – as she is running down the driveway giggling.
Women are often put in impossible situations, where we are unable to do the ‘acceptable’ thing. We experience conflicting expectations from family, friends, or peers leaving us in a no-win situation.
Shankar Vedantam author of The Hidden Brain discusses the role of the unconscious mind during decision making. The unconscious mind is where hidden feelings, unnoticed perceptions, unconscious thoughts, habits, reactions and desires are stored.
Floating around the unconscious mind are the ‘rules’ of others. Contrary to our intuitive nature, women are trapped into thinking and acting while under invisible influences – from others.
Women need to question their fear, question its value and validity. Women should not relate to their world through fear. However, it is important for women to accept and acknowledge their feelings – feelings are real.
Fear is the culprit pushing women into second guessing their nature to influence or persuade circumstances. Fear is irrational.
Women define their fears based on whether our response is useful to us. Fear swoops in, grabs us before we can think, and becomes a conditioned response. All in a split-second.
How does fear of influencing effect women?
- Fear impairs our strength, after the first rush of adrenaline
- Fear lessens our judgment
- Fear reduces our focus
- Fear hinders our performance
So how can you influence or persuade without appearing like a woman who needs a psychological adjustment?
One way to allow our influence to flow forth is to realize that fear is all in our imagination.
Fear largely exists based on what is possible – the future. For example, if I decided to intervene in a conversation to correct misinformation based on knowing what I know, but fear holds me back because it I believe it may embarrass someone. This fear prevents me from using my influence – I retreat against my better judgment.
You will notice that what I just described is a choice I made in my mind to predict a future outcome – but sadly, my choice is based on my fear of that outcome, whether I act or not. In this case, intervene with correct information.
Women influence the future by shaping the present. The thought of having such power is scary to most women. It is a fear of being in a light of disapproval or the contrary – being ultra successful. We all know about the fear of success.
How can women overcome their fears around influence and persuasion? By adjusting their individual and shared thinking, assumptions, and behavior.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Stop in your tracks when in a position to influence or persuade
- Ask different questions than you usually do
- Know that you are meant to address the situation
- Face the challenge of doing it differently
When the need for action is at hand you cannot second-guess yourself. Your body AND your mind have been preparing for this very moment – where your decision to influence is critical. Trust yourself to make the right one. Your job is to be in the present. Focus on it.
Make it a part of your plan. Fear has a purpose. It’s a warning that you are on the edge of opportunity or greatness. Never run away from greatness. Greatness comes in the form of saying NO, sharing a kind word, or taking an unpopular stand.
“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.”