By Liz Bentley
Last week, I gave a talk at the Microsoft Women’s Conference in New York City. While the emphasis of my talk was on how women can “Step into Their Power” and realize their potential, I also talked about the need for women to support each other. And what’s most critical here is supporting each other when we make mistakes.
Mistakes are part of life. I would not wish a mistake-free life on anyone. Our greatest opportunity for growth and healing comes from our mistakes and hardships. It is when we trip and fall that we most need the support and empathy of the people around us – not their judgment. When we receive empathy we can grow and recover, but when we are judged we feel shame. Shame is a destructive feeling that lowers self-confidence and resilience. In shame, we fall and shrink. In empathy, we rise and recover.
In my work and life, I often observe men unconditionally supporting each other in times of trouble. When a man makes a mistake – perhaps he cheats on his wife, doesn’t pay his taxes, or overlooks the rules – his buddies rally around him. They yell “man overboard” and men run from all over to help him out saying, “I know a guy who can fix this.” They might not even know the man in trouble, but they know that when a man is in trouble they need to help. It’s not that men are especially amazing at empathy but they are good at suspending their judgment. I can’t tell you how many guys I know who will say, “Sure, he’s a cheat, but he’s a great golfer and I like him…he’s funny.”
I’m not suggesting we lower all standards, but it’s time for women to step into their power together and pull their female counterparts into the huddle. Friends or not, let’s suspend our judgment and stop punishing each other for mistakes.
Our TrendSpotter Alert is this:
Women are great at extending empathy so let’s leverage that strength so that we can all have the support to evolve our lives. “Woman overboard….go get her!”