Sometimes we have just something we want to talk about and this is our space to let it all out! It might be an opinion, a new theory, some relevant news or some tips taken from a recent Hopscotch event or initiative, but we hope it will always give new direction to the issues surrounding women in the workplace.
This month our Key Skills Coach, Archana Bhatia, lets loose on a topic close to her heart - Positivity. Read on for some tips you'll have missed if you didn't make it to our December Workshop on how to gain, retain and maintain a positive attitude. Take it away, Archana.
"Some weeks ago, I was asked to present on the power of positivity to a group of women. This set me in a reflective mood — what does positivity mean to women who have been out of the work place for a while and are trying so hard to get back? Often, they lack confidence (not the determination or talent, mind you) in their ability to find meaningful work and usually take to introducing them-selves in a disparaging manner - "I'm so and so and currently I'm just a mom.." 'Just a mom?- really!!
As Hopscotch’s Key Skills Coach, I have interacted with several women who are at the cross roads of their life – they desire to return to the work force but are unsure of navigating the job search process such as setting goals, CV writing, approaching head hunters and networking. After many such coaching sessions, I have come to conclude that in a job market that is sluggish and a corporate culture that doesn't offer sufficient part-time and flexible work opportunities, what carries women to the end of the race line is the attitude they bring to the job search process.
The dictionary definition of positive thinking is 'a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results'. The key take away from this definition is that positive thinking lies "within" us, it is not something we draw from the external environment. The external environment can contribute to it but we only have to observe two people in the same situation with totally different reactions to understand the power of one’s 'inner self"
For years, at best, a positive attitude was something good to have and at worst, it was a “fluffy” notion not worthy of research. This has changed now and positive thinking has taken firm root in science. There are numerous studies that highlight the impact of positive thinking on life span, combating depression, strengthening immunity, coping with disease etc. But it is impossible to ignore that all of us experience negativity at some point in our day. I’ve asked a number of women what triggers negative thinking in them (especially in regard to the job search process) and the answers I typically receive are:
- Little encouragement from a significant other
- Lack of response to their applications
- Feelings of inadequacy before an interview
- Belief that they are “out of touch” with latest trends in their sector and no longer have a professional network
- Rejected for a job after being interviewed
- Feeling intimidated by other women who 'power dress'!! They are assumed to be more competent for some reason.
Overwhelming as these thoughts and feelings are, there are some simple ways to overcome them.
An affirmation is something declared to be true, a positive statement or judgement intended to provide encouragement, emotional support or motivation. For women looking to get back to work, saying to them-selves everyday, “I can find a job”, “I do have contacts that I can network with” or “there are companies looking for a person of my profile” can serve as powerful motivational tools.
But, these are not just feel good statements, there is science behind it. Our brains have a reticular activating system (RAS) that acts as a filter for information – unimportant data is filtered out while we are allowed access to information that our brain perceives to be important to us. Imagine two friends walking together – one is hungry while the other is trying to get fit. The hungry person is likely to only notice restaurants while the person trying to get fit will notice the gyms! The way it works is – if you say something to your-self over and over again, it sends a powerful message to your RAS that this is important to you which in turn allows you to notice/ access relevant information from your environment. Many years ago, I knew I had to change my self- perception of being a 'lousy' networker. My affirmations were “I do have a network of contacts”, “ I can get assignments through networking” and “ I have all the skills ofgreat networker”. Over a period of time, I was amazed at the change in my-self – I started to notice networking events, spotted opportunities to introduce my-self and my work and was able to identify potential clients by picking up cues from conversations.
2. The power of questions
I often have women say to me, “I didn't get selected for the job. What's wrong with me?” My response is to encourage them to think of better questions - one that will help them move forward rather than internalize the failure. Questions like 'how could I prepare better/ differently? What skills are the recruiters looking for and do I have them?” While these questions allow for self-reflection, they also leave room to 'fix' the problem
3. Acting “as if”
Traditionally psychologists believed that thinking and feeling precede behavior. But research in the last few years show that behavior can also precede feelings. The logic is simple - do we only laugh when we are happy or can we be happy because we laugh? While this certainly involves some amount of faking, the results can be real. If we behave 'as if' we can perform well in the interview and are in control, we are more likely to be successful than if we wait for success and then act successful!
Each of these tools bestows on us the power to make our own choices. If used and implemented everyday, it can help build positivity within us so we don’t have to depend on others for it. As the writer Anthony J D’angelo says, “wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine!"
Archana Bhatia, Key Skills Coach, Hopscotch.
If you'd like to book a 121 session to gain more skills like this from Archana and our team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.