Tag Archives: Cultural intelligence

The Grand Illusion of online… Who are We?

12 Jun

Humanity has always struggled with the question:  Who am I and where do I fit in the world?

100 years ago, this was easily answered – identity was based on social status (rich or poor), infamy (Bonnie-and-Clyde), profession (you’re the town doctor/undertaker/barman), or  relationship (you’re so-and-so’s mother/father/sister/wife/brother/husband/friend/lover, etc.)

Today, with the “Grand illusion of online connectivity,”

it’s so much harder to figure out what the world thinks of us.  You might say, who cares?, but no one, outside of hermits living in complete isolation in the woods, can truly say that outside opinions don’t affect their well-being.

In our online, connected social/not-so-social, 24 x 7 world, we are infinitely judged by everyone for anything we post/blog/utter/comment online.  I say “infinitely” because once words are pressed into digital media (texts, posts, blogs, comments, emails, etc.) there is a permanent, accessible record.

And judged we are – 24 x 7 – no matter if we recant, remove, erase the words, our persona online becomes what others perceive us to be.  We are judged by people we may never meet, by people in other countries, by people who gain a snippet of our life as we allow them to see online, and our image of ourselves can be forever altered.

I’ve thought about this… Facebook reaches over a billion members worldwide.  People of every facet of global society are on Facebook and pass judgment based on the two-dimensional words, photos, friend lists, and associations we make (our likes, dislikes, comments, etc.):

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Online affects kids AND adults…

Who we are and how others view us is critical to both kids (who are finding their way in the world based on social media, YouTube videos, online comments, etc.) AND adults.  I see this as a looming crisis as we, the civilized 1st world, pretend doesn’t matter.  We comfort ourselves by saying that our kids are connected and safe and loved when we give technology gifts instead of spending our time and energy connecting with them one-on-one.

Our news media is filled with reports of cyber-bullying and intimidation with sometimes dire results (depression and even death, sadly.)  Yet, others profess that online friendships have rescued their lives (the infirm and home bound.)  Ultimately, time will tell what a generation of children raised mostly online will give us.  (Hopefully they will be able to talk and connect to each other as human beings!)

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I’m connected almost 24 x 7, but who am I?

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend  most of my waking hours “online.”  By that, I mean, essentially tethered by an electronic umbilical cord to my smart phone, my laptop (now), or my tablet and am constantly accessible to the world through Facebook, e-mail, text messaging, Facebook messaging, or Skype.

My professional work is home-based and on-the-road based (I teach project management and speak at conferences worldwide) – and when I work from home, I have the luxury (and the bane) of not ever having to step outside my front door, yet I find that my true identity is when I go out and interact face-to-face with other people.

I am confident and secure with who I am, yet I hear of other adults (and youngsters) who struggle to find their place in the outside world – mostly based on their online interactions. One poll stated that over 2/3 of Facebook users BLATANTLY LIE with their  posts – yet the posts are legal and have the power to be used for/against people in court!  (It goes against who I am to lie online… just saying.)

On behalf of friends (and myself), I’ve agreed to conduct a short experiment (that I’ll publish the results of) to gauge if who you think I am matches in any way who I truly am… will you take part (please?)

tethered

Who do YOU think I am (an online experiment…)

Here’s the challenge:  give me a three word description (no profanity please!) based on what you’ve read on this blog or on my other blogs or on Facebook that you think best describes me (I know I’m opening myself up by leaving it free format here.)

To make it easy, here’s a template:

 

Regardless of the Grand Illusion – Go Offline to really connect and stay true

I created a National Offline Day (it’s a Facebook event) as a global way to for people to reconnect with real people in your real life.

Won’t you join in?

I’m committed to reconnecting with the people in my life and my neighborhood for 12 hours – for the sake of my real-life sanity.  Let’s get back to who we really know we are… for real and in-person without the grand illusion of online personas.  🙂

Have a great week!

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National Offline Day – August 3, 2014

27 May

I traveled back from London, UK to Toronto last Friday, May 16 after a week of working, and I was dismayed to read the headline article in the Daily Mail about a recent study linking heavy internet to negative outcomes for our youth (click on the image that follows or the link beneath it to read the article.)

Not that I hadn’t been hearing rumors about the negative effects of online and the lack of good, solid communication skills prevailing in North America and Europe (and not just in our young people) … I just didn’t expect the widespread results found in this latest research.

So, I’d like to declare Sunday August 3, 2014 as National Offline Day!  (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page I created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492244714326734/?source=1#)

The intention is to unplug for 12 hours from social media and be a day for families, friends, and especially children to reconnect with each other and meet people the old-fashioned way – in person!

Here’s what I propose:  Sunday August 3, 2014 from 9am to 9pm (in whatever time zone you are) commit to go offline and unplug for 12 hours!  (After 9 pm, post photos of your experience and add comments to the Facebook event.)

You can use your cell phone to MAKE CALLS only – no texting, no Facebook posts, no tweeting, no email – for 12 hours.  Spend time through direct one-on-one contact with your kids, your friends, meet new people, get in contact with your fellow human beings (or connect with the good in yourself!)

Have a picnic, a beach day, a craft brew bottle share, a bbq – anything you normally would do – but without any online exchange.  Will you support this – what do you think?

Share the idea around, and let’s just do it!  Can we make National Offline Day August 3, 2014 happen?

Background

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail May 15, 2014 you can read for yourself, the Headline speaks volumes!

daily mail web usehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629866/Heavy-web-use-harms-childs-mental-health-Every-hour-raises-risk-warns-watchdog.html

While I don’t agree that the Internet CAUSES mental illness (in the same way that the internet cannot cause weak ankles, poor vision or the like) – I do agree that we have nurtured unconscious alienation from each other through “the advancements in communication” technology.

Kids are the first to suffer from a lack of physical love and words of affection – exacerbated with technology. Kids need connection, hugs, kind words of affirmation – in other words direct human contact!

That’s the reason behind National Offline Day August 3, 2014.

(Sidenote, I do agree that the internet has many positive results such as creating community among those who feel alienated in offline life, but bear with me for a moment.)

Online technology has become an excuse for poor one-on-one communication – regardless of age!

Communication experts note that messages received rely on body language and tone, with only 7% of the message getting through based on the chosen words.  With today’s instant messaging and other online forms, 100% of the message relies on words (or stupid acronyms like Laugh Out Loud – LOL.)

Let’s make a point of getting in touch with each other this one day a year (to start) and maybe create it more often too!

Have a great week (as you read this post online!  And probably were alerted to it by Facebook or Twitter… LOL!)

– Carol

Clues as to Why She Might NOT be into You… (especially for men over 40!)

10 Aug

Following on the coat tails of “He’s just not that into you,” I’ve developed a list of common behaviors rampant among men (over 40) in Florida.  Every one of these has happened to me in the past 6 months (!) and my friends concur that they experience the same thing.

While we see these as absolute turn-offs, we constantly have guy friends who say “We can’t figure out why she didn’t call/text/email me back – I thought we were soooo compatible.”

So, if you are over 40, male, straight, and living in Florida (and elsewhere), here’s the top 10 list of disrespectful behaviors that should give you a hint about:

  “Why she just might not be that into YOU”:

1. If she tells you she doesn’t like texting and you insist on texting anyways; it’s likely she won’t be into you.

2. When you ask the type of food she likes and disregard her response & take her to Hooters; it’s likely she just won’t be into you.

3. No advance date planning ahead of 3 hours; this is just plain narcissistic to think that we women are waiting by the phone for your call.  If we are busy and active, (which those of us who are emotionally healthy and happy ARE), we’re not going to find this an attractive behavior.  When you know we are busy and you still do this (because you are NOT busy),  it shows a lack of planning on your part and a lack of respect for our time;

4. Male whining about how bad your ex is/was; We don’t care (just like you shouldn’t care to hear crap about our ex’s!)  You’d be turned off about us bemoaning how horrid our ex is/was -and so are we!  It doesn’t matter what you ex did to you or who she was – unless you prefer to be with her than us… Regardless, this is a turn-off and we probably will just NOT be into you!

5. Smoking without first asking if it’s offensive; this is a big no-no – a guy who pulls out a cigarette in a crowded bar or car and then expects us to share the air with their nicotine.  Would you willingly take part in cancer research we subjected you to – that was harmful to your health?  Unlikely – and so if you do this to us (without asking if it’s okay or excusing yourself and walking away) – we’re most likely NOT going to be into you!

6. No showing after we reserve time when you’ve asked us out and then saying “it wasn’t really a date anyways;”  This one is simply amazing!  A guy I know (who insisted he really, really wanted to see me) pulled out the “I’m too sweaty and tired to see you tonight” after arranging a date a few days in advance.  His response when I told him that I had set aside the time was “well I can see you tomorrow or Friday or the weekend” – NOT!  Any busy, happy female realizes that this is plain disrespectful behavior to assume that he can see you when it is CONVENIENT for him… Gosh, it is any wonder when this happens that we are just not that into you?

7. Calling us “chicks” or “girls” when we are over 25. – Hey, we are women who deserve good treatment – we’re not school girls or barnyard animals (although you might like that – NOT!)  While you may not intend to be disrespectful – you need to know that this is how it comes across.  Don’t be surprised if we are just not into you!

8. Asking if you can meet up with us when we’re out with our girlfriends, then getting ticked off and leaving in a huff when we don’t devote all our attention to you.  This happened with a “friend” who wanted to go out with me (I told him I just wanted to be friends) – he shows up at a place where he knew I’d be with friends (the priority!), ignored my friends (despite being introduced) and tried to monopolize my time.  Is it any wonder after violating multiple points above (whining, smoking, disrespect) that he’s no longer even in the friends WITHOUT benefits category?

9. Ignoring responses to texts you’ve initiated – for hours or days – then expecting immediate responses when you finally do text back; This is a routine complaint from my single friends:  guys will text them and carry on a conversation (multiple texts) then drop “off the face of the earth” when they initiated the text thread in the first place.  When our responses to your texts go unanswered, is it any wonder why we don’t respond immediately when you decide it is convenient to text back?  If we sense a lack of respect or courtesy, you can bet that we will just not be that into YOU!

10. Whining (about anything and everything) – especially when we’re out somewhere. There is nothing more pathetic (and unattractive) than a guy who whines about how great their former city is compared to where we choose to live. Recently a transplant from Scranton, PA incessantly whined about the “high price of chicken breasts” here compared to “Scranton” – it got so bad that I started to encourage him to move back!  If you whine instead of expressing gratitude for life, don’t expect us to be into you!  We have enough drama in our lives without having to take on yours!

Now, I’m not saying all single men over 40 living in Florida (and elsewhere) are bad guys.  I’m simply pointing out that if you are puzzled by female behaviors that confuse or (at times) seem to stymie you – take a look again at the checklist items #1 through #10 – and see how many infractions are part of your regular behavior.

Certainly it is your choice whether you want to/don’t want to change, but if you do want someone to become special in your life, you may want to take a second look at what you might be doing to turn off women.  (And this is just a short personal list of what irks me and my friends – it might not hold true for other women.)

Wishing you all the best – do you agree with my findings above?

p.s., The next posting will concentrate on how to discern:  “You think she’s into you, but you’re just not sure:  A Checklist for Respectful Guys.”

Carol

Why Do I Care What YOU Think?

4 Apr

Why do we care so much about what other people think (about us?)  Every day I meet people who bemoan about how someone in their life diminished their achievements, pooh-poohed their plans, or expressed a lack of support for their ideas.  Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that people who purport to love us (and tell us that they only want the best for us) have opinions worth more than our own!  And this is such a fallacy!  Yet we do the same thing to other people without even intending to.  (Which begs the question:  If you knew that your opinion caused someone to feel badly about themselves… even to the point of giving up – would you think a bit more before YOU spoke?)

Realistically, it is only YOUR own opinion of yourself that should matter. And yet we falter…

I grew up with the adage “How can you do/say/think that?  What would the neighbors/friends/strangers think (of you?)  It was almost as if people on the street without any regard to you or your life should have a level of control over who you are! It was as hogwash then as it is now, but so many are still caught up in the trap of “what would so-and-so think?” – the truth is that it just doesn’t matter.

The opinions of others have nothing to do with me (or you!)  I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years and I am always amazed at the diversity of evaluations that come back from attendees.  They range from the polar opposites of “Couldn’t stand the presenter, didn’t learn a thing…” to “Best presenter I’ve ever seen – make sure you invite her back. Excellent!” – all from the same presentation! The rest of the audience lies somewhere in the middle, with the majority of people offering no comments at all.  What should I believe about my presentation – the best, the worst, or somewhere in the middle?

None of them!  All of the opinions from the audience are from THEIR perspective – based on what they like and how they perceived me. No one knows me except for me!  When I speak, I give it my best and that is all I can do.  When I leave the stage and feel good about what I’ve done, that is all that should matter – I’ve done my best.  Yet, of course I do read the evaluations (and they are the basis on which I am asked back!) – and they do still affect me.  BUT I am learning to ignore the outliers (both positive and negative) because they are so much less a reflection of me than of the audience members and their own frame of mind!

The only approval we should ever strive to meet is our own.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past two years on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of author and motivational guru don Miguel Ruiz and his landmark book The Four Agreements. When my daughter first gifted me a copy almost 10 years ago, I read it but the concepts just didn’t sink in at first.

Now, 10 years later, I fully embrace the concepts even though I still get tripped up by life’s little circumstances that suck me in and zap my energy!

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

The Four Agreements just for introduction purposes (see my other posts on the subject for more insights) are:

1. Always live with integrity: I used to think this meant to live honestly (with high ethics and morals), but it really means: become your own best friend!  Love yourself unconditionally and never, ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend!  (i.e., Banish your inner critic and rid yourself of the negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough – any of these!  Replace them with positive and realistic self-love endorsements such as “You are kind. You deserve love. You are a great person! (Which goes beyond appearances!))

When you’ve had a lifetime to build up your defenses with a damaging inner critic (mine was so strong it almost led me to suicide!) – often put in place to protect you from the (inevitable) onslaught of unsupportive but well-meaning people in your life – this can be a major life change!  But it is necessary – if you are not your own best friend who loves you for all you are – you’ll never find happiness. Happiness starts and ends within – so start today by loving yourself!

2. Don’t take anything personally: This one was also tough for me, but it makes so much sense.  Think about it – if you wear something new out to a party and three people come up to you saying variously:

  • “What a great color on you – great outfit!”
  • “Oh, from the looks of that outfit, you’ve gained a few pounds.”
  • “You look tired, maybe it’s the outfit, you really shouldn’t wear those colors.”

Who is right?  As I’ve stated above – none of them are “right” – they are all opinions.  If you feel good about yourself and how you look – that is all that matters.

When we stop taking the responses of others personally (they are not personal – they are only a viewpoint from another,) life gets so much better!

3. Never make assumptions: Agreement #3 also takes getting used to. When we realize that not everyone thinks like we do, it makes sense to stop and ask questions to clarify what others tell us.  A couple of years ago I was dating a guy who I really cared about and he told me after a few weeks that “I have no feelings for you.”  I was devastated because I took it to mean that he didn’t care at all about me, and I immediately started crying when he said this. He couldn’t figure out why I’d be upset because he meant that he wasn’t in love with me, he cared about me but wasn’t in love (he was going through a divorce at the time… I should have seen the red flags there!)  My interpretation was that no feelings = no caring.  I’ve since learned to try not to react and instead ask questions first to make sure that what I hear and interpret is the same thing as what is meant.

In life, we make so many assumptions about WHY others say, think, do, or act based on OUR opinions.  When we ask questions to find out WHY – the answers may pleasantly surprise you!

4. Always do your best: This one can be the easiest to embrace because it is tied to #1. If you are always doing your best, it is harder to tell yourself you could have, should have… anything.  When you do you best (at the time, given the information and resources at hand) – you can never could have, should have done anything differently!

All in all, it really shouldn’t matter to me what YOU think about what I write, what I say, what I post – yet it still does.  We are at the core, social creatures who are domesticated to care about others and respect the opinions and thoughts of others.

In this journey of life, I’m finally learning to put MY OPINION of myself first… and everyone else’s second to tenth.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I don’t accept and love myself – how can I expect anything of anyone else?

p.s., Comments?  I’d love to hear YOUR opinion – it doesn’t change the fact that I did my best in writing this post, but I’d still like SOME feedback.

p.p.s. Remember to register for the upcoming True You Discovery retreat May 3-5, 2013 in beautiful St Petersburg Beach, FL. Visit www.spiritualconnections1-trueyoudiscovery.com for full details.  I also wrote about this in my last blog post.

Have a good week!

Carol

 

Living up to Expectations

10 Oct

I’ve been really disappointed lately, but I realize that the disappointment stems from my unrealistic expectation of others.

“Expectation” is an innocuous word according to dictionary.com:

1.the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
2.the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
3.an expectant  mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
4.something expected;  a thing looked forward to.
5.Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
It’s all very subjective, yet cleanly defined.
In reality, expectations are far more elusive and laden with emotional impact.  When others “expect” something of us, it is based solely on their perspective, their longing, their wish for what or who they want you to be.  Yet, seldom are these expectations stated or expressed and the person who projects his/her expectations on others is often disappointed.  When you consider that it is utterly impossible to read another’s mind (where expectations reside) – it is no wonder that expectations go unmet!

I know someone…

who often is deeply disappointed in others because they expect a “basic level of behavior” (their words) based solely on their judgment of such.  This person is a thoughtful, considerate, put others first type of person for whom I have a great deal of respect.  It is difficult to watch this person continually lament over how others behave – all because the expectation of behavior is seldom met.  She just doesn’t realize that others work from a different set of basic rules of life.
Realizing just how impossible it is for others to live up to this person’s expectations (“common, basic respect” in her words) made me realize just how utterly failure prone we make ourselves when we project our expectations on others – and how disappointed we continue to be.
In the words of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, “Agreement #2 – Never take anything personally…”  When we project OUR expectations on others, we normally do not tell them what these expectations include, nor do we give them a chance to defend whatever actions offend/disappoint us.
As a result, we end up thinking “How could that person be so rude to me? (They probably never realized that they were rude) or “How could they not ask me how I AM doing? All we talked about was them…” (The others probably didn’t notice their apparent self-centeredness.)
The key to feeling happy around others is to have few expectations (if any!) of others, and let life flow!  Instead of being disappointed that someone you were hoping would call didn’t – take matters into your own hands and call them when they don’t “deliver” to your expectations.  Often there is a good explanation for their “lapse” – most notably that they didn’t have any idea that you expected them to act a particular way.
Keep expectations for yourself – and then try to live up to those, instead of imposing them on others.

I used to expect a lot from other people…

– courtesy, respect, love, reciprocity, – all of the valors I grew up to think were part of the adult world.
Today, I’ve relaxed and redefined most of my former expectations – my new definition of respect is one where people don’t DISrespect me.  Love, I’ve learned is primarily conditional and never ever can be expected.  I used to expect unconditional love from loved ones (especially family) which is simply non-existent.  One cannot conjure up love from others – only for and  by oneself.
Reciprocity, I now know is a bonus – you can be nice and giving for your part, but that doesn’t mean that others will necessarily react in kind.  Others  follow their own path, not yours – which may not even consider reciprocity as an action.
Courtesy (especially “common courtesy” such as opening doors for people, giving up one’s metro seat for elderly, etc.) has been redefined for the 21st Century (at least based on behaviors in Florida!)  One person’s courtesy is another person’s great surprise – it is always a matter of subjectivity.

Expectations— only of yourself…

Today, I expect respect, courtesy, unconditional love, and reciprocity ONLY from myself.  Anticipating that anyone else would bestow these same behaviors on me is no longer part of my outlook.  Relying on my own resources to meet (and often exceed) my expectations has been wonderfully successful.

Maybe this would work for you too?

Have a great week!

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

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