There’s something about receiving kindness from another woman that always hits harder than when it comes from a man. We expect this from men, whether it be for superficial reasons, or because we don’t ‘pose a threat.’ When it comes from a woman, we can’t help but feel genuinely good about it.
We are entering an era of women helping other women, empowering other women and displaying genuine kindness after too long of a time period where we were known for being petty, catty, cutthroat and competitive. While the shift is happening, there are still so many instances where we can do better. Where we can make a stranger, a woman you may not know, feel good about themselves just by uttering a word or two.
My gym is rather cliquey. I go to a CrossFit gym where most of the people in the group classes are a little older. After numerous attempts to make conversation, I gave up. Of course the men in there regularly said hi to me, but catching a smile from a woman was few and far between. Rather than quit the gym entirely (um, I have goals people), I decided to quit the group classes. Now I go to open gym hours whenever I feel like it and my best friend there is Pandora Radio. While I planned to do my own thing eventually outside of group classes, the cold shoulder I experienced simply sped up the process. The funny thing is that now the chicks at the gym talk to me more than they ever did before.
Just like it’s hard for a guy to approach a chick that’s with a group of her friends, it’s equally difficult to make friends with other women who are glued to their friend’s sides. When you’re in an environment where you’ll be with a group of people like the gym, a class, a party, or even work, there are bound to be some women left at the edge of your circle looking in.
Branch away from your friends group and say hi to someone who is alone. When you are with a group, you come off as unapproachable and intimidating. The person on the outside may also feel like anything they offer to the conversation is blown off because they don’t really know any of you. Include her and you will experience some major gratitude.
With all the cases of Resting Bitch Face going around, it’s not shocking that women don’t often smile at each other. I’m not telling you to walk around like you have a light bulb in your teeth, but it can really brighten up someone’s day to receive a smile for no reason. Be aware of your face and what your expression is giving off.
Practice. Practice. Practice. If you’re passing by a random woman on the street, sharing an elevator, waiting in line—whatever—SMILE at her. And don’t just plaster on a fake for good measure, let the smile reach your eyes too.
Do you remember that drunk girl in the bathroom that was sooo nice to you? You know, the one that told you that you were so pretty you looked like a fairy princess and that she’d kill to own your shoes? She may have been hammered, but that didn’t stop you from smiling, did it? Nope. A compliment from another woman, no matter her state of being, is a compliment.
Not only can you make another women feel good with a genuine compliment, but you can disarm her as well. Every time I walk into a party or am introduced to a female that clearly has her guard up, I smile and give her a compliment. More often than not, you will immediately see the relaxation in her body as she drops her guard and offers a smile, or maybe even a compliment in return.
We are so busy with our own lives sometimes we forget to include others that may not be so obvious. An invitation, while a small gesture, can mean so much more to the person invited. When an invitation is turned down repeatedly, it’s easy to give up and avoid asking altogether. But why? It doesn’t take much to invite, and whatever the other person’s reasoning for turning it down, it still makes them feel like you care enough to include them.
The chick that works in your office and always eats at her desk, maybe invite her next time you go to grab lunch. Ask the girl at the gym if she wants to work out together. Ask someone you work with if they want to grab a glass of wine for happy hour or that girl in your class if she wants to join your study group.
Making other women feel included isn’t the only reason to invite, it also opens you up to new opportunities, experiences and friends that you otherwise might miss out on.
We really don’t give each other (and ourselves) enough kudos for a job well done. When you’re working hard, whether it be at work, in the gym, or even volunteering, hearing praise for your efforts can be so invigorating. Why not do that for another woman?
If you notice or are impressed with a job well done by another woman, tell her. It can be so discouraging to work really hard for something and not have anyone notice.
So tell that chick at work that kicked ass at her presentation, the girl at the gym who crushed her personal record, and the woman who pulled the fundraiser together without a hitch—that she freaking rocks. Your appreciation will go incredibly far.
We can learn so much from having positive female relationships and interactions. Being kind to strange women can formulate collaborations, diminish competition, and form bonds. Setting the example of kindness might become something those women will pay forward in their interactions. Maybe because you were kind to them, they will be kind to another woman that really needs it. You never know.
If it’s not reciprocated: If your smile is met with a glare, if your invite is unwelcome, if your compliment is met with an eye roll- so what? Doing your part is what matters the most. There will always be a few bad eggs out there and some of your kindness will go misinterpreted, but as long as you know your intentions are pure, that’s all that truly matters. When women are kind to each other, the world truly is a better place.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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