What with countless challenges working women are facing during this pandemic, many feel that they can only talk to other women about it. Therefore, they need a network of supportive women. A 2019 University of California study found that professional women must have two different networks, one consisting of only women, and another that is diverse, including men. The former can give them an inner circle, support, advice, and freedom to share things they might feel uncomfortable sharing with a man, while the latter, can connect them with high-power leaders, tips to climbing the corporate ladder. To make these a success women need to master these two relationships, the first one being, empathy and the second, to bounce off this empathy with others.
‘Feeling seen by others is a basic human need. Its basis is evolutionary’
When you get to know people at the top, both men and women, you begin to understand what it takes to reach there. “When women actually get to know other women who have forged their way into leadership positions, it helps them understand how they can achieve that as well,” says Jennifer DaSilva, president of the creative agency Berlin Cameron. The secret behind it getting this right is making people feel seen. What does “feeling seen” mean? According to Psychology Today, ‘Feeling seen by others is a basic human need. Its basis is evolutionary: If your tribe didn’t see you, there was a risk you’d be left behind when the nomadic life of early humans dictated they move, and being alone equated to death. If other tribes didn’t see and respect you and your tribe, they were likely to invade your territory, take your resources, and leave you and your family to die. In the ancient part of our brains, not being seen is equivalent to being sentenced to death.’
“If you make people feel seen, they will jump over rivers for you”
Empathy is the key factor to making people feel seen, it doesn’t matter who you are, we all want to be seen, whether you are a junior intern or the CEO of the company. “If you make a person feel seen, it does wonders. It doesn’t matter who they are. They could be the most successful person in the world or a junior intern. If you make people feel seen, they will jump over rivers for you,” says Dee Poku, founder of WIE, an influential membership network, and platform for women leaders. Here are some tips on making people feel seen and heard. Be fully present when talking to someone, validate their feelings, and listen to them without wanting to fix it immediately. More often than not, people just want someone to talk to and be attentive to them, whether it’s when they’re telling you good news or whether it’s something sad. Be there for someone and you will be paid in full.