How to Behave Like a Lady in a Man’s World of Business
The following is a guest post by Julie Petersen. Her bio follows.
Who says you have to be a man to make it in the high-stakes world of business?
It’s not 1962 anymore, and Don Draper and his fellow Mad Men are a thing of the past. Today’s boardrooms are no longer men-only, and today’s businesses are better because of it.
But despite that, there’s still an age-old stereotype to overcome, and while more and more inspiring women are leading companies into the 21st century, there’s still a gender (and income) disparity. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it was fifty years ago.
Nowadays, businesswomen are able to juggle busy jobs, a family life and a social life, often while their husbands stay at home. In fact, according to the Mail Online, the number of stay-at-home mothers is at a record low while the number of house-husbands has doubled.
The world of business, then, no longer belongs to men. And, as the feminist and equalitarian movements continue to gain traction around the world, the number of women in business looks set to continue.
Women in business
It’s a mistake to change who you are in an attempt to fit in, but that’s what many businesswomen decide to do. When industries are still male-dominated, the temptation is to act more ‘manly’ to try to assert yourself. After all, meetings can get intense (especially when there’s a deadline), and the phrase ‘nice guys finish last’ can apply to women, too.
Still, there’s no reason to let that change your attitude. You’re in control of your own actions, so don’t let other people get to you and don’t resist the temptation to sink down to someone else’s level. Instead, remain professional, and act with kindness and courtesy even if you don’t feel like it.
Being ladylike can seem like an outdated idea, but there’s actually a lot of merit to it – especially when it comes to business. You’ll be elegant, courteous and respectful towards clients and colleagues while your ‘manly’ counterparts turn them off by trying to bench press a desk and putting their backs out.
Ultimately, the way that you behave will affect other people’s perceptions of you, but so will the work that you deliver. If you focus on doing your job to the best of your ability, you’ll earn a reputation for being good at it – and people will respect you no matter how you act.
Women as leaders
In their book, The Athena Doctrine, authors John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio present their evidence for how women – and the men who think like them – will rule the future. They cite the results of a survey of 64,000 people across 13 countries which found that two-thirds felt that the world would be a better place if men thought more like women.
The authors have a compelling argument for why this could be the case. In the past, in the Mad Men era of the 60s and the heaving stock exchanges of Wall Street in the 80s, businessmen would sell their own mothers to get ahead of the competition. It was a cutthroat place where more ‘masculine’ traits – such as aggression, ruthlessness and competitiveness – were required to float to the top.
But the world has changed, and the modern business is much more ‘feminine’, characterized by traditionally feminine traits such as compassion, collaboration and empathy. Because of this, the authors argue that by simply behaving more like ladies and less like lads, more women will inevitably rise to the top of the world’s biggest businesses.
Behaving like a lady
Behaving like a lady doesn’t involve dressing up in frocks and hosting tea parties for the local vicar. In fact, men can learn just as much as women when it comes to being ladylike. Behaving like a lady means behaving like a decent human being.
As a general rule, treat other people how you expect to be treated. Make introductions to people instead of leaving them on the side-lines, use your manners and hold the door for other people. To begin with, people might think that you’re a pushover, so be sure to say no if you’re not happy with something and to pipe up with your professional opinion when appropriate.
You’ll also need to use your self-control at times to stay cool, calm and collected even when you’re angry, or after a couple of drinks at the office party. Try not to swear too much – if at all – focusing your energy instead on being charming and approachable.
People do business with the people they like, and that’s more powerful than any gender disparity. That’s why one day, women will rule the boardroom. And they don’t even have to compromise their integrity to do it.
About the Author:
Julie Petersen is a writer and a blogger from California. She is a founder of askpetersen.com, educational blog for students.