Women are terrified to compete with each other, according to a recent study. For real, and in an unhealthy way. When women are pitted against each other in the workplace, they freeze. They’re unsure how to respond, and experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety which leads to a sloppy, incomplete and haphazard output. The same response is not evident when women are pitted against men or when men are up against other men.

Okay, why is this? Why are women afraid to compete? Or, is the real question here how do women compete?

Women handle situations differently than men do. They can encounter the same circumstances and react in a completely different way than those of the opposite sex. Sometimes, their responses are much more complicated.

Men have no fear. They will go aggressively and territorially after each other, no-holds barred. Women who are vying for the same professional positions or social seats compete in a more underhanded way—through manipulative and passive-aggressive tactics. They want to appear friendly while knocking each other out… figuratively.

Since women are also more emotionally in-tune with themselves, it’s important to be able to trust one’s instincts. This means, if you believe that ‘friend’ of yours is out to get something you have, you’re probably right. Intuition should trump outward perceptions of any particular situation you’re contemplating.

Many times, we talk about ‘going with our gut’ or ‘trusting our instincts’. This is important. It’s our internal self’s way of screaming, ‘Something’s not right here!’ If someone’s body language doesn’t match what’s coming out of their mouth, watch their moves rather than their lips.

Women are more likely than men to befriend their enemies. And, they will go to great lengths to ensure they are trusted confidants before they expose their true motives.

The moral of the story is this—if you have something you’re eager to keep to yourself, make sure you don’t let your guard down too easily. It’s best to wade in the waters for a bit while this alliance is still new to ensure you stay protected.

Of course, we can’t live in fear of having our deepest secrets revealed or being unable to confide in someone else. Women are social creatures. It’s important to develop lasting, trusted friendships with those of the same sex, and be able to rest, knowing your secrets are safe.

It’s simply important to listen to your own inner voice first. And, realize when you may be on to something before it’s too late. Everyone gives off energy—positive or negative. Some are harder to read than others, but this just means we have to listen more closely, be more open.

Most women would prefer to work in environments with men rather than with other females. Why? Because the stress of having to compete in a complex way is eliminated. Not only that, but if a woman is surrounded by colleagues of the opposite sex, she suddenly becomes the center of attention. Everything she says or does is great, and if not, it’s okay. She’s allowed to make mistakes without permanently wearing a sign on her forehead.

The pressure is off when you’re let off the hook. But, the silent competition that exists in a room full of women is exhausting and distracting. Even in situations in which the focus needs to be entirely on the task at hand, the whole room fills with catty chit-chat and sly tactics to plow each other over on the way to the top.

The real question is—what’s the big deal, anyway? Why do women do this to each other?

If everyone was as genuine and kind as the image they were trying to project to others, the world would be a better place. Women would no longer feel pressured to compete, or to be better than the person sitting next to them.

Take a moment to reflect on the reality of this. Does it ring true? Are you silently competing with everyone else? Or, do you have the self-confidence to stand on your own two feet and fight for what you believe in regardless of the consequences?

You see, the funny thing is—women do compete. We’re all trapped by our own insecurities and we’re all looking for that one person who isn’t to guide us out of this cage, so we can finally be comfortable in our own skin.

Why are we continuing to compete and looking for this outward reassurance when we should be looking within? Get to a place where you can trust your own intuition about yourself, others, and the circumstances around you because you trust yourself. And, nothing else matters.

Sara E Teller
I am a credited freelance writer, editor, contributor, and essayist, as well as a novelist and poet with over fifteen years of experience. A seasoned publishing professional, I've worked for newspapers, magazines and book publishers in content digitization, editorial, acquisitions and intellectual property. I have been an invited speaker at a Careers in Publishing and Authorship event at Michigan State University's College of Arts & Letters, and a Reading and Writing Instructor at Sylvan Learning Center. I have an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and am currently pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. For more, please visit my blog at sarateller.com.
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