It's no secret that women face specific obstacles when attempting to climb the corporate ladder. Oftentimes these challenges create unhealthy behaviors that catalyze jealousy, guilt and competitiveness.
What's worse is that women often compare themselves to their female peers, which inevitably results in an unsupportive work environment where it's every woman for herself.
I connected with Ayami Bassett an entrepreneurial business consultant who helps others realize their potential in creating a life fueled by purpose and passion. After spending several years in an arduous work environment as an operations manager in project and change management, Bassett now teaches yoga and meditation rooted in mindfulness.
I sought out Bassett as I've seen firsthand her ability to create a strong supportive community among women at her workshops, trainings and retreats. She offers some sound advice on how women can move past feelings of isolation and insecurity and begin fostering female camaraderie in the workplace.
Say No to Jealousy
Bassett believes women can combat feelings of jealousy towards female coworkers by simply focusing on their job specific tasks.
"When we're busy worrying about how we match up with our coworkers, we don't leave much time to excel ourselves. We essentially waste precious, productive time and energy that could go toward our own growth and achievements, which would mitigate jealousy in the first place," she says.
Bassett points out that jealousy is an emotion fabricated by the mind that most often taints a clear perception of the true circumstances.
"Jealousy doesn't get us anywhere, in fact, it puts us a step back,"she warns.
Skip the Guilt and Challenge the Norm
I asked Bassett how she believes women can feel comfortable with their individual work habits, alleviating unhealthy competition and feelings of guilt (if they are not putting in as many hours as their peers).
"Chances are if one person feels this way, the colleague that person is trying to 'out-do' feels the same way," she says. "Essentially, we have a hamster wheel of unspoken, unhealthy work ethic across the board. We sacrifice our energy for no other reason than to be competitive, when we could save that energy for something more useful-like service towards others, or love towards family and friends."
Bassett urges women to challenge the notion that being overworked is the norm.
"If you produce great work in less amount of time, and you're being scolded, I say move on," she says. "Go somewhere that appreciates your ability to work efficiently and prove you can work hard while maintaining a balanced personal life outside of work."
When it comes to camaraderie among women, Bassett says it's important to engage in workplace community building that promotes the idea of unity, non-judgment and compassion.
"When we help each other, we remember we are a team; that we are all just doing our best to be our best," she says.
Bassett finds yoga, meditation and mindfulness workshops or training programs vital in teaching women to redirect their awareness out of their head and into something happening in the present moment.
"When we do this, we can rewire our brains from perpetual stress and robotic reactions to thoughtful responses," she says. "Practice of mindfulness outside of work in a fun and relaxed environment will begin to translate to challenging scenarios at work."
Bassett believes women can create a more supportive workplace environment through constant, open communication especially during times of pressing deadlines or transitions. She also notes that support needs to be both given and received.
"We all simply want to be acknowledged for our skills and our work," she says. "When support works both ways, we feel a sense of worthiness and connection. This fuels a strong team of workers and provides individual motivation."
Let Go of the Past
Often, when women butt heads at work it can be difficult to move past unsettling feelings and work towards a common goal.
Bassett suggests looking inward at our own insecurities rather then blaming the other person for whatever may have sparked conflict. She urges women in this position to take a moment to come to a neutral place, and when conversation begins, to listen patiently and to speak rather than react from anger.
"Studies show our brains latch onto anger for 90 seconds only and beyond that is our own choice to remain angry--when we pause, we make better choices," she says.
Bassett also urges women to let the past be the past and to focus on being mindful.
"Go somewhere separate from work, look around at other people and recognize that no one knows or is consumed by what is on your mind...then go back to work and focus on what is happening now. Get it done, move on. Surprise the other person by completely focusing on the tasks present in that moment," she says.