Talking something to death. Frequently, women spend too much time discussing or analyzing a single situation. Rather than putting it to bed and moving on, they rehash an incident over and over again. As a result, they never really get closure on it. Such behavior wastes time, turns people off, and erodes credibility.
Why do women keep doing this? Incessant discussion allows them to process the situation emotionally, provides opportunities for them to vent their feelings, and generally gives them lots of attention. How can they stop it? Women who talk something to death need to figure out why they are doing this in the first place. They need to employ some personal discipline in the workplace and seek out a trusted friend or partner to work through the situation after hours.
Expressing too much emotion for too long. Regular and excessive displays of anger, tears, pouts, prolonged silence, and/or theatrical laughter basically tell bosses and peers that these women don’t deserve professional respect. Such demonstrations communicate emotional weakness, fragility, and lack of control.
Women who indulge in these behaviors may benefit from a false feeling of power, others’ pity, intense attention, and special treatment. Instead of manipulating workplace colleagues, these women need to determine why they are doing this, examine the pay-offs, and perhaps seek professional help. When a troubling situation arises on the job, they simply ought to tell the appropriate party how they feel about it using direct but diplomatic language. Adult behavior accomplishes more than childish rantings, sulks, or tears.
Failing to offer solutions. Complaining that often resembles whining is unattractive, especially to supervisors. Dumping problems in others’ laps, laden with emotional content, without providing possible solutions gets “old” really fast. It pulls down office morale, frustrates the receiver, labels the women doing it as chronic complainers, and shows that they are incapable of coping with difficult issues. While whining women may get the immediate attention and pity they crave, they certainly don’t get promotions and leadership roles.
What should these women do instead? They need to privately acknowledge their emotions first, then rationally think through the problem at hand, consider several solution options, and strategize how to implement each possible fix. Taking all of this to the boss along with clarity around the resources required to move forward puts women in a position of strength.
Expecting friendship from supervisors and/or board members. Women who expect gifts, lengthy personal conversations, meals in restaurants, and social visits at home from their bosses and/or Board members are living in a fantasy world and setting themselves up for huge problems. If the boss delivers, these women risk colleague ire when others find out. If the boss declines, they themselves feel cheated and disappointed. Regardless of whatever the supervisor chooses to do, employee performance appraisals can suffer. Bosses cannot evaluate someone fairly when they are personally and inappropriately involved with that person.
Women seeking this sort of attention get to feel powerful when the boss indulges them in the ways they desire. They may imagine they are protected from lay-offs or termination. They may feel very special, and they may over-inflate their value to the organization. In short, these women are on shaky ground. If the relationship changes or ends, problems abound. How to stop this? Women should not expect it or start it in the first place. Instead, they can show their supervisor that they just want to be treated like any other professional in the workplace, being treated fairly, being held accountable, and being recognized for outstanding contributions as they occur.
Denial. Pretending that some situation doesn’t exist or fantasizing that it’s better than it really is can derail a woman’s career in serious ways. It demonstrates that this woman cannot see things as they are, that she has flawed judgment, and that she won’t take appropriate action. Worse, the truth will in fact smack that woman in the face sooner or later, and she will be left vulnerable.
Turning away from temporary pain isn’t worth the long term agony. Feeling better only lasts for a while. Continuing to coast doesn’t solve the workplace problem or enhance a career. How often do women deny reality? More often than many may think. When women chronically turn their heads from truth, they probably need therapy. Denying reality is not living a responsible life. It’s a habit that serves no one well. And, it can be dangerous, depending on the circumstances. For women who generally want to face their reality but at times need a little help, they might try dividing the situation into manageable segments rather than swallowing the whole piece at once.