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Sunday, 23 April 2006 05:40

The All Girls Club

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How many times throughout the week do we use the expression “the girls at work”? Dozens and dozens, I’m sure. “The girls at work said this,” “I went to lunch with the girls from work,” “The girls at work want to have a bridal shower for me,” and so on. All of my family and non-work friends know that I work in an all-women environment. Most of us in the spa business do. It is simply the nature of the beast that a great number of aestheticians, hair removal specialists, massage therapists, make-up artists, and other beauty professionals are women.

The spa business is full of women managers, women staff members, and mostly women clients.
So what is it like to work with all women? Women who work in male-dominated fields ask me this question quite frequently. What is it like with all girls in the office? Do people get catty? Do we gossip? Do we exchange intimate stories? Do we chit chat all day long? Well, it’s a little bit of everything to be sure. Working successfully in an all-women environment takes a great deal of intelligence, tact, and savvy. But it can also be greatly rewarding. Let’s examine a few basic things to keep in mind in order to successfully navigate the mostly-female spa business.

Girl Talk
Yes, the truth of the matter is that women love to talk. We love to find out about other women’s weekends, we want to know what you received for Valentine’s Day, and we certainly wouldn’t mind hearing about a co-worker’s son’s birthday. Women love the process of communication in general, and we are usually pretty good at it too. That is often the reason why, for instance, the communications professions (Public Relations specialists, English teachers, etc.) are full of women. We are just communicators by nature! Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with simple chitchat between women who work together.

Fine Line
Of course, talking can also include discussing the boss, complaining about the new company policy, or venting regarding the client who never tips well. When does simple “talking” cross the line to become “gossiping”? It is often hard to tell. We tend to associate gossiping with saying something negative about someone else, often without concrete proof. Since women like to talk by nature, we are also more likely to gossip or spread rumors. Or so many people think. In fact, studies have shown that men have a tendency to gossip just as much as women.

Regardless of statistics, if you are a manager dealing with a gossiping situation in your spa, what should you do to avoid serious conflicts, hurt feelings, and so on? Read on for a few tips.

· Never get involved in the rumor mill. Contributing only exacerbates the problem.

· Try to quickly cut the problem at the root. Rumors will grow if given the chance.

· Gather all your employees in a meeting to discuss the issue of negative rumors and how to deal with it.

· Treat your staff as your partners in the operation of your business. Do NOT treat them like children who need to be disciplined.

· Recognize that rumors often start as a result of a bigger concern that went unaddressed. Once you know the cause, you can deal with the situation easier.

 

If you are a spa employee who is facing a rumor situation, here are a few suggestions on how to cope.

· Try to stay away from badmouthing anyone, be it coworkers, the boss, or the clients. Rumors have a way of coming back to haunt you.

· If you are asked for your opinion, stick with neutral comments that do not offend.

· Be sure that your job performance does not suffer as a result of dealing with negative communication. Remember – you are at work to do a job, period.

· Don’t look at your coworkers as your only source of socialization. If you do, you might be more likely to participate in the rumor mill. Seek friends outside of work, occupy your free time with hobbies and family activities.

· If you feel things are getting out of control, do not be afraid to approach a supervisor, confidentially of course. Your work environment should be a place where you feel safe and worry-free. You deserve it.

Rewards
Working in an all-female environment also has fabulous rewards. In fact, you may come to find out that not all women gossip, that women can be kind and gentle, and that your co-workers can become your good friends. Come to think of it – you spend nine hours per day with “the girls at work.” Most likely, you do share the details of your weekend, how your son did on his math quiz, and what your upcoming vacation plans are. You may borrow items of clothes from each other, eat lunches together, and catch rides together. You may also quietly complain to each other about the newly implemented days-off rule or snicker at your manager’s new haircut. And you know what? That is OK. In the midst of all the talk, we form bonds with our co-workers. We exchange recipes, we help each other with work-related questions and problems, and we meet outside of work for lunches and movies. The truth of the matter is – we are lucky to be connected with fabulous women who share our passion for skin and body care. We can support each other every single day, share the good and the bad, and become better professionals and better people for it.

When people ask me what it is like to work in an all-women business, I reply that it is wonderful. I feel close to all my colleagues, I look forward to going to work, and I know that I get more satisfaction out of my 9-to-5 due to the wonderful girls I work with. With the right attitude, we all will feel this way.

Alla Lemberg is the Communications Manager for Institut’ DERMed, in Atlanta. Ms. Lemberg holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and is finishing her Master’s in Communications. When she’s not sampling spa services or visiting with editors, she’s traveling with her significant other and practicing her French.

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