Dumb “Chick Moves” Things Women Do That Can Undermine Our Careers

By Theresa Hall

justsaynoLadies, we’re not dumb. We’re smart, sophisticated, educated, hard-working and we deserve long and fulfilling careers. But even though we are all these things, plus the fact that our moms did quite a bit of glass ceiling smashing for us, sometimes we just do dumb things that really put a dent in our career plans.

Why are we doing these things wrong? Maybe it’s the way we’re wired, or those mixed messages we grew up with, or maybe they’re not such a big deal outside of the office. Either way, as an offender myself, I’m here to bring to your attention some things that you might be doing that may be sabotaging your career goals.

Trouble in Women’s Careers. How Women Undermine Themselves at Work

1) We run around like chickens with our heads cut off. We don’t eat lunch, we stay late, we fix everything and make everything right. We think we’ll be rewarded for being good little worker bees. The truth is, men don’t view it that way. If you are staying late and never eating lunch, male managers will think you are maxed out. He’ll think ,”She’s hanging by a thread as it is. If I give her any more responsibility, she’ll crack.” On the other hand, the guy that knows how to delegate (to people like you), and therefore be on the golf course at 5:30, well he can handle more responsibility. You know the term, “never let them see you sweat?” I’m sure it was a guy that came up with it.

2) We worry about people too much. If someone’s a bad apple give him fair warning, try to work with him, but when it’s time, cut him loose. Don’t be wishy washy because he has a family or is a nice guy. I know I sound like a hard-hearted beast when I say that, but I have lived through it. You are never doing anyone any good by keeping that person in a position that he doesn’t belong in. It’s also not fair to the workers around you who bust their butts, and when you let things slide, they get the message very quickly that going above and beyond doesn’t pay off. Let the bad apple get away with too much because you feel bad or don’t like confrontations, and he will indeed spoil the whole bunch.

On the other hand, for any level worker, don’t let yourself get absorbed into other people’s problems. We women are a caring and nurturing bunch and we want to help. I’m not saying don’t help other people or be kind, but just know where to draw the line. Don’t become a sounding board for everyone’s woes and excuses as to why things aren’t getting done. And don’t expect someone else to be yours either.

If someone’s having real problems, take the time to research resource information, make adjustments for them at work if that will help, but then back away. That’s the same advice no matter where you are in your career or what level other employees are. Just remember you can be caring without being a pushover.

3) We pick up everyone else’s dirty underwear. You read me right. You know when your boyfriend leaves dirty underwear on the floor and it drives you nuts long before it does him?  And you give in and pick it up? Problem solved, no underwear on the floor anymore right? Wrong. Now he knows if he drops it on the floor, he doesn’t have to pick it up because his sweetie will. So what happened? You just took on another task. You are now the official underwear picker upper. Now you have one more thing on your plate and he has one less.

Same goes for work. If there’s a problem that needs fixing and it’s not really clear as to who should be the one solving it, or worse if it is somebody’s and he’s just not doing it–resist the urge. Leave those dirty underwear, or unfiled documents, or updated presentations right where they are. Cause if you don’t, it won’t be you getting out on the golf course first. Leave the problem where it is until your manager is forced to deal with it. That’s what he gets paid for. Fix it and yes, you may get a pat on the back, but don’t be surprised if the boss starts viewing you as the one that handles all the low-level stuff and taps other people for higher level roles. Also, if you are always the accomodating one, and do so again and again, refer to the paragraph above, note, “chicken with her head cut off.”

4) We wimp out when it comes to negotiations. I see so many women do this. They state they want what they want for a salary, and in the very next breath they say, “but I’m negotiable.” Don’t say that. If you do, guess what, they will negotiate, and it won’t be in your favor. Be confident in what you are worth and research your price. Don’t be afraid of awkward silence. Now, if they can’t pay you what you want, don’t just agree to work for cheap. Talk about other options such as vacation time or flexible hours. They will respect you more.

I know it’s not easy in this economy, but it won’t be this way forever. Stick to these principles as much as you can in everything. This includes if you are a contractor or freelancer. I had a bid from a man and a woman, both were talented but I just liked his work a bit better. The guy overbid the woman. When I tried to get him down he wouldn’t budge on the price but worked out with me what he could do for the budget I had. I repected him for that. When I talked to the woman the first thing she said was “I’m negotiable on the price.” Because of this, the guy seemed more seasoned to me. Right then and there I realized, that’s a “chick move.” I’ve done it myself. Don’t do it too.

So I know ladies, negotiating is kind of icky. And I know there are women who are barracudas and have no problem nickling and diming over every little thing, so if that’s what you are like, God bless you, this paragraph isn’t meant for you. But you know you have sisters out there that have a lot to learn from the likes of you. I had to learn this lesson and am still struggling with it every day.

5) If we’re single women, it freaks us out that we’re bringing in the only income in the house. When it comes to careers for single women, yes, it’s scary and yes it would be easier to have another career and income as back up from a partner. But that’s never set in stone either and two people cost money too. On the other hand, if you are alone, you have much more control over your finances than many married women often do. What I mean by that is, even if you do all the bills and make the decisions, your bank account is eating for two, which invariably complicates things. For example, if you get a blissfully ignore spend-thrift like my darling husband used to be, it can be truly maddening when you shop at Wal-mart, only to have him go on a shopping spree at the Apple store.

So as Jon Bon Jovi so aptly put it, “welcome to wherever you are.” Take this time in your life, today, at this moment, to get a handle on your finances. Make it your number one priority. Figure out what you need to do to get those credit cards paid off and put something away for an emergency fund. If you can build up six months worth of your salary, that will reduce the worry and stress enough to really let you plot out your career goals.


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