“It had never occurred to me.”
Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, makes this confession in the introduction to her bestselling book from years back, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Sandberg was reflecting back to 2004, when her feet swelled two shoe sizes from her pregnancy and the 60+ pounds of weight gain that came with it.
She had complained to her husband about her aching feet, made worse by having to walk a ways across the parking area to reach the building at Google, where she was an executive at the time.
Her husband mentioned designated parking for expectant mothers as a something his employer provided. Sandberg grabbed the idea and got “pregnancy parking” right after she asked Google’s founders for it–for herself and all pregnant women at Google.
Actually, she “announced” that it was needed, and Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, immediately agreed. (Sometimes announcing works better than asking, if you’re in the position to do so.)
Accepting the Status Quo
Sandberg’s example reflects what the research shows: women are more likely than men to accept the status quo of their situation, and suffer in silence. This is fostered by socialized training of girls in “compliance behavior.” For the research on this, I recommend the book, Women Don’t Ask.
Sometimes women lack the confidence to ask for change; other times, they don’t even think of their options, again, related to compliance behaviors. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to you, too, right?
It even happened to Sandberg, as highly-educated and super-smart as she is.
A simple step solved the issue, but it had been overlooked earlier for lack of awareness and acknowledgement of her option to ask for it.
Know and Negotiate Your Options
Likewise, I work with smart career women who don’t always see their options for easing their work-life conflict. But once they know and negotiate their options, even small changes can make improve their quality of life.
What about you? Are you suffering in silence on an issue at work or at home? Are you aware of all your options? Do you need help exploring them?
Have you considered a Custom Flex Strategy Session to gain some fresh ideas and answers for your life?
“It had never occurred to me.” Let’s take this lesson from Lean In and learn to ask for what we need.