Ahh the internet. That magical place where you can follow your high school classmates without having actually seen them in real life for ten years. When Brittany Larsen, who I was so jealous of in high school because she had a magical soprano voice, posted on her Facebook that she was starting a community for working women I knew I wanted to be involved. Never mind we haven’t seen each other since 2007.
Her new project supports women in all paths and her rallying cry to support one another as women is SO NEEDED in this world. I sent her an email and boom – another connection. She was so kind to feature me on her new blog and I’m happy to share her beautiful message with you – the first guest post of 2018. To women!
Author: Brittany Larsen
I have always found beauty in things that are rare. I love finding what is different and seeking out the unique. I like to consider myself a connector and I love to find the links between people and their interests. This prompt got me thinking about what I consider to be beautiful, and I’ve realized what makes me feel beautiful is when I lift the people around me and find meaningful connections with them.
One thing I felt I struggled with growing up was maintaining uplifting female relationships, which is ironic given that I know Katie from High School and we just recently connected after a decade, so maybe I wasn’t as bad at it as I thought. When I got to college, I decided that I was going to focus on encouraging the women around me. I was in a predominantly female program (Broadcast Journalism) and it was extremely competitive. I wanted to figure out what made my fellow students tick and encourage them. For too long I felt like I had been competitive with the women in my life because of my artistic endeavors, so I learned a lot by trying to avoid gossip in my college years. At times this approach cost me friendships or “popularity,” which took some getting used to. But I persisted and tried to find the higher ground whenever I could.
In my first job out of college I struggled with this concept of lifting the women around me. I realized that working in a real career unfortunately had a lot more in common with my junior high experience than I had anticipated, and it likely didn’t help that I worked in politics. I quickly learned that back biting and negativity in the workplace were more common than I would’ve thought, especially from my female colleagues. I was frustrated with myself when I would get caught up in talking about things that just didn’t matter. Again, I had a choice to seek out the rare by finding women who would help and guide me, and women I could trust. I also had to choose to rise above the negativity. More than anything, I learned how to fight for myself and the women around me in a professional way. I am still not even close to being perfect at avoiding the stereotypes of working with women, which is why I have had to make a conscious effort to avoid negativity in my female relationships.
Here are a few ideas that you can start with right now that have helped me combat the stereotypes of women working with each other:
- Today, write a thank you note to a female mentor and express your gratitude for how she’s guided you. This can be a teacher, former manager, peer, etc.
- Publicly acknowledge a woman that you work with in a meeting for her ideas.
- Text an encouraging quote to a friend struggling with her career path.
- Next time you hear someone say something negative about a female coworker, find a way to redirect to one of her positive attributes or just change the subject.
- Stop yourself next time you make a snap judgement about a woman you work with or a friend’s career choices.
- When a friend posts about a new job on social media, congratulate them for their success.
It is truly a beautiful thing when women fight for each other, instead of against each other. This is one of the main reasons I recently started Livlyhood; a community for women who work.
Women are already so naturally hard on themselves and I’m firm on the idea that we don’t need any negativity coming from each other. I’ve learned through trial and error that women can unfortunately be our own worst enemies. We don’t lose anything by positively recognizing the efforts of those around us, especially at work. In my current professional role, I manage a team of primarily female professionals and I constantly remind the women I work with that we have more in common with each other than what may be seen on the surface. I am so proud when they stand up for each other and positively encourage each other.
With Livlyhood, I hope to continue to shine a spotlight on my beautiful connections (both inside and out) and to share what they’ve taught me. Every woman is worthy of positive relationships, even in the workplace. The glorious thing is that we don’t have to be best friends to be kind to each other. I hope to contribute in a way that makes what is currently rare and make it commonplace… women helping each other climb the ladder of success in their careers.
Brittany Larsen is an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She currently leads the Public Relations Department at The Summit Group.
You can also find her here.