Regardless of your politics, the last year has been a fabulous display of woman-power in the political arena. For the first time in American history, a woman was a major contender for her party’s presidential nomination, and came damned close to winning it.
Without Monday morning quarterbacking her entire campaign, there are some interesting nuggets to retrieve from her run, perhaps telling us something about the future of women in politics and in power generally.
As someone who assists women lawyers in developing good business producing skills, I was interested to see the following note about Senator Clinton in the Sunday, June 8 New York Times:
"Unlike her opponents, Mrs. Clinton refused to make solicitation calls to donors and had to be talked into calling the party officials known as superdelegates."
Sound familiar? Hesitation to make direct appeals for support is a recurring theme in the work I do with women. Results should speak for themselves, they say. I shouldn’t have to ask. Who wants to be a squeaky wheel? Men, on the other hand, I find, tend to take the attitude that if they don’t ask, how can someone say yes, and that if they are not the ones to champion their own cause, why expect others to?
What seems to underlie the hesitation on women’s part to "ask" is a fear of having to deal with rejection and also an uneasiness about putting the relationship at risk. What if they say no? What do I do/feel? And what happens to our relationship then?
There is an argument that this kind of sensitivity makes women better in the relationship building department, a critical part of developing business. So is this a tendency that should be overcome or preserved? The answer is both. The sensitivity should be protected but the kind of fear that immobilizes should be allayed. Good relationship builders know how to keep the relationship even if there are disagreements. Good relationship builders survive rejection and help the relationship survive as well.
Learning and believing the self-talk and attitudes that help overcome the hesitation is one way to start coping with the fear. Taking the risk and then seeing that the results are not as scary as anticipated also helps. It is a matter of venturing into the unknown, or what has been projected to be a distasteful known, with good intentions and a willingness to listen. So you get the benefit of both high sensitivity and, hey, if you don’t ask, how can they say yes?