How a Woman Develops in Owning her Voice
Over my last several years of working with thousands of women business owners and leaders as they've personally navigated the empowerment journey and a lifetime of experience attempting to find the right balance of saying it like it is and create win win outcomes personally and in leadership roles (and both getting it very right and at times, very very WRONG at others) I think it can be summed up a little like this (see the model above.)
1- Silent. At first, many women have started from a default of not speaking up, perhaps out of lack of awareness of what they need and at the times where they are, out of fear of what they'll lose or what consequences will be incurred if we speak up. This typically results in compensation via people pleasing to keep the peace, or women giving to others what they actually hope to be given in return (it's not just straight being of service, there's often that agenda. Or, at times, women simply withdraw instead of risking confrontation.
2- Non impact. In this phase, we start to practice speaking up, but even though we ask for what we want, we often don't feel like we got heard or met in this phase. Boundaries get ignored and tested. And in this phase women often feel like their words and actions HAVE little power or impact on the people they had incidents with or ask for things. Here, even though we're asking, we're still acquiescing to the needs of the other as more important or watering down the impact to our challenge to the others power, in other words, we're not fully owning and embodying that it's 100% really what we want and need, we'll still drop it if it makes another happy or to avoid a fight or more suffering than is deemed acceptable for all involved and oneself. In this stage, In women's workshops where we work on this, the remedy is at first encouraging women to feel it, own it and say it like it is in the safety of therapy space, without worrying about the consequences. You just practice owning it and getting it out.
3- Over impact. Which, now that we're owning it and saying it, but are still overcoming the hangover of feeling like our words have little impact, for a while, we tend to go over the top in intensity, finally feeling the emotions that have been denied flowing freely when we let our energy fire up and flow again (rather than repress it), trying to be powerful, trying to have an impact, learning and practicing how to meet and match a threat or opposition, dealing with the stages of empowerment that involve justice and reclaiming our power through our own action.
4- Interdependent impact. E.g. the phase where, personally and professionally, we realise just how incredibly powerful we already are just being fully present within ourselves, centred in our hearts and in ownership of the truth of who we are, how we feel, of all we have to give, our wisdom, our gifts. In total ownership of our femininity and sexuality too (which can underplay also dynamics in the earlier stages, but that's a whole other blog in itself. We actually have moments all the time in life of spontaneously BEING stage 4, but often we're not conscious of it so we may not realise how powerful we actually are and keep striving for more impact...even though we actually already landed with the force of a pointy boot kicking a door in, or Mila Jovevic in Resident Evil, frying the undead with verbal flame throwers.
After this realisation, we realise that just saying it how it is and blasting others flame-thrower style with the full impact of our emotional ejaculations, focusing on our own healing and acknowledgment as the primary goal and perhaps missing the huge impact on some people who really cared in our lives in the process, and subsequent conflicts, worst case maybe endings, we've come to the realisation now that, just saying it minus a filter, isn't always the needed thing. In relationship building, as with audience relating, we must maintain awareness of or connection to the people we're speaking to as best we can at all times and be sensitive to how what we say is received, so that we can love and honour them in ways worthy of the connection we're building together.
We also start to realise that, one of the reasons people tried at times so hard to get the upper hand back in stage 2 at times when we just spontaneously WERE completely heart centred and embodied in who we are as we spoke and acted and it scared the bejesus out of other people who were invested in our playing small. We realise that, at times, those people may be waiting for your moments of vulnerability, of insecurity before they pushed the boundaries. But in this stage, with all the virtues of the previous stages, like warrior strength and mother presence, this woman can look someone with ill intent or neck deep in their mental stuff in the eyes and they stop dead in their tracks and come back to heart and humanity. Equal impact is possible simply speaking through the eyes of our hearts, with focus on growth and building connection together, with focus on our shared vision/s and how do we create the win win.
Finally, to summarise, as it applies to the bigger picture right now, and us coming into our power as feminine Leaders, one of the first steps to equality and feminine empowerment is for women to own their voices and the next is to realise the sheer power of them to influence in either a positive or negatively impactful direction.
Heart Centred Feminine Leadership is about asking that all-important question of what will be the impact of me saying this in the world and how do i say it in a way that helps most effectively get the point across with heart and helps us create the common outcomes we seek?
It demands that we add a dose of discernment to our urges to deliver disruption within the dysfunctional paradigms that have been.
Remembering that sometimes, truth goes down a little easier with a spoonful of honey, than delivered as a neat shot of Apple Cider Vinegar. Honey = with heart + human compassion + the considered use of good humour. Vinegar = judgement +/- blame, condemnation, being dismissive or apathetic to the impact of the kind of insight about human behaviour that are tied to people's deepest insecurities, wounds and vulnerabilities.
On an individual level, a spoonful of honey really DOES help the medicine of truth that at times needs to be shared and taken, go down a little easier. But deliver up a glass of vinegar to your friend for morning tea or spray your audience or community you're speaking to with it a little too often, BEFORE they've strongly connected with why they want and need you in their lives or know, like and trust you and you risk a bunch of rejections to your future invitations. In the end, we all want to be spoken to with love, honour, respect and gentleness in our fragile moments, don't we? Use more honey and you 10 X your positive influence and impact and you truly put yourself on track to making that bigger global difference you're here to make, plus creating the successful business, relationships and lifestyle you love too.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.