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How to Combat “Catty Communications” to Encourage a Culture of Women Supporting Women
Women supporting women is a powerful concept that can lead to collective empowerment, growth, and progress. However, despite the importance of women feeling safe with each other, there are barriers that hinder this support system.
“Catty communications” between women can be problematic in corporate life and social engagements. This is a way of showing up in a world where women feel motivated to speak negatively about each other, as competition over collaboration is the driving mindset.
In my own globally-diverse experience of training, corporate life, and teaching, I have experienced the ‘dark side’ of female engagement. My journalism and coaching contacts have shared too many stories reflecting negative accounts of bad practices and abuse between women.
I will share the three most common factors that I have understood to cause these problems — ego, scarcity complex, and insecurity. It’s these core traits that prevent women from wholeheartedly supporting one another. When we understand the way language shapes the culture around us, we can make better choices to create the best ecosystems for positive relationships.
Causes of Catty Communication: Ego, Scarcity, Insecurity
1. Ego: The Silent Divider
The ego is an inflated sense of self-importance, which can create a wedge between any person, including female-to-female relationships. It’s impossible to establish a supportive network when you feel that you are better than others and only see your progress expressed by belittling others. When women let their egos take control, it becomes difficult for them to genuinely celebrate each other’s achievements. Instead of fostering solidarity, they may feel threatened by the accomplishments of their peers.
For instance, instead of praising a fellow woman’s promotion, an ego-driven response might be, “Well, I have more qualifications; it’s ridiculous that people could see her as smarter than me!” A less catty response would be, “I’m so interested to understand why I was not offered the role so that I can make a better application next time.”
2. Scarcity Complex: The Fear of Limited Resources
The scarcity complex arises from a belief that there is a limited pool of resources, opportunities, or recognition available for women. This mindset creates an atmosphere of ‘me versus them’ at the expense of team spirit. Women may feel compelled to outshine one another to secure their ‘share’, inadvertently perpetuating a cycle of distrust and individualism.
A scarcity complex may manifest in language through statements like, “There are only a few spots for female executives, so I need to make others look incompetent to stand a chance.” Another supportive reframing would be, “Let me lead a group activity/event where we can pool our knowledge to grow our talents.”
3. Insecurity: The Self-Doubt Dilemma
Insecurity can undermine women’s ability to support one another. Deep-seated feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome may lead women to question their own abilities, making it challenging to uplift and endorse their fellow women.
Insecure language can be observed when a woman responds to another’s success with: “I don’t know how she got that promotion; she’s probably just lucky.” A less invalidating option would be, “I’d like to understand the work strategy used to get to where she is.”
Breaking the Barriers:
To overcome these mindset blocks and foster genuine support among women, it is crucial to address them head-on. Here are a few strategies to consider:
1. Self-reflection and Awareness:
Developing self-awareness about one’s ego, scarcity complex, or insecurities can be the first step toward overcoming these barriers. By recognizing and acknowledging these mindset blocks, women can consciously choose to change their perspectives.
2. Collaboration and Mentorship:
Promoting collaboration and mentorship programs can create opportunities for women to share experiences, knowledge, and resources. By working together and offering guidance, women can break free from the scarcity complex and encourage a supportive environment.
3. Celebrating Diverse Achievements:
Embracing and celebrating the achievements of all women, regardless of their field or background, can combat ego-driven divisions. Recognising and uplifting each other’s successes fosters an environment of encouragement and solidarity.
Understanding the mindset blocks that hinder women from supporting each other is essential for a more inclusive and empowering social ecosystem. We can overcome these barriers by addressing ego, scarcity complex, and insecurity and creating a supportive network where women thrive collectively. Let’s advocate for the positive points in this article and call out the negative trends. In this way we can break “catty communication” patterns and forge a path towards a future where women wholeheartedly support one another, celebrating each other’s achievements and inspiring a wave of mutual progress.
About the Author
Name: Mrs. Jan Daudi
Professional Title: Journalist, Communications Strategist
Bio: MissCommuniTeam provides world-class bespoke communications training for legacy-driven women seeking to ‘level up’ their careers and social life. The current global operations have a service that offers both in-person 1 to 1 coaching as well as group coaching for corporate or private enterprises.
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