By Sesil Pir
There are human beings who are joyful, tolerant, friendly, understanding inside our workplaces. They assume no ill intent and meet everyone on equal terms. There are human beings, who work and often at the same time raise children, some take care of their elderly and travel around the world like a light summer breeze… These people as Whitman would say look as if they can “reach forth into the actual world of questions and events, open-minded, sympathetic, frank, natural, good-natured…”
There are also human beings who are harsh, intolerant, unfriendly inside our workplaces, always looking for an underlying intent or someone to blame. There are human beings, who hide emotions and struggle to form equal relationships, either approaching it from down or above. These are those, who have to have a say all the time, whether it is good or bad, always a word in and often jumping into conclusions by the look of it. Often, these people are loud, pushy, aggressive and most importantly, unforgiving.
We become in many forms inside diverse environments. How people become is vastly directed by an individual’s unique transitionary progress (un)made into adult development. As we spend most life time inside workplaces, our day-to-day experiences are shaped, by and large, through the interactions we have with one another. Still, it is a perplexing thought to go through an experience and parse it out on the basis of gender.
It doesn’t matter how we categorize ourselves to make sense of the world around us. Men, women, no gender, trans-gender, etc.; the human race is never meant to be separated into categories. In fact, despite our genetic make-up, preferred traits, innate identifications or learned behaviors, there is some feminine and some masculine energy breathed into all of us. Note that there are environments in which this wholeness is acknowledged and people can express themselves freely and openly and are not bound to conventional ways of expression.
In academic language, this way of working is often referred to as “trans- or multi-disciplinary.” Inside these environments, studies show by the virtue of open expression, people are able to expand their attention to related and relatedness issues. This leads often to unfolding of topics that are in need of addressing and as a result, people go into a productive exchange of perspectives/ ideas/ emotions, often end up lifting up one another. Specifically, these environments offer:
- a free and open forms of expression,
- “experimental” experiences that are not based on established and conventional forms of expression,
- unlimited possibilities, open to all scenarios, even those regarded as unachievable.
Given the science of our connectedness, this should not come as a surprise. When we deny one of us or oppress a group, we end up denying the other.
At the same time, almost all the tools and technologies we leverage in business, the taxonomy, the language, the processes and the practices, they feed for the most part only one side of our human energies. The philosophies we have internalized, the cultures we have come to formalize and the systems we have willingly co-built have led us to inhale and internalize the power of one energy alone. It is no secret that in the world of business, there is a clear imbalance of masculine energy. Because of this predominance, all of us – men, women and otherwise identified, we feel largely disconnected from the feminine and the neutral energies available to us.
Consider, for example, the traditional definition of management. What may its traits be? The act of managing is very frequently associated with doing (masculine energy) over being (feminine energy); controlling (masculine energy) over coaching (feminine energy); physical strength (masculine energy) over vulnerability (feminine energy).
How about the traditional definition of performance management. What may its traits be? The act of performing is associated with quantity (masculine energy) over quality (neutral energy); advancing (masculine energy) over growing (neutral energy); winning (masculine energy) over learning (neutral energy), you get the point…
When care to observe our current social, political and cultural issues, we see there is a dominance of certain outlooks/ mindsets manifesting themselves as patriarchal values and behaviors leading to control and dominance – just like the workplace. This is not a coincidence as there is a broader contextual pattern to our experiences.
How we become shapes the way we relate to one another. How we relate informs the way we do work together. How we evolve as a culture shapes the structure of our organization (families, businesses, societies).
Therefore, we want to invite businesses to recognize they are in a unique position to rethink effectiveness indicators here. It is very difficult for an individual to shift into a neutral self-view without a new definition of success in the larger environment. Think of it this way: When we are such strongly conditioned by the environment – especially in situations where we are uninformed about the nature and the tendencies of our energies, we, easily become fearful of what it may mean to shift our energies in relation to our identity or how we think we may be seen in the environment. As a result, instead of trying to understand, we often end up repressing deeper to one side – to the side we know guarantees success.
Let us simply start by envisioning!
What if the imbalance we observe in our communities, workplaces, societies is not an issue between men and women, rather, it is an issue of energies?
What if getting stuck on one side of a spectrum means becoming super effective in one area and not the other (as a result, weakening overall capability and capacities)?
What if there is a possibility and an availability of different kind of power we can reach through harmony and balance?
And what if, we, as the new generation business leaders could role model behaviors of collectiveness, creativity and caring?
How would our learning to move fluidly across a spectrum could potentially improve our lives, relationships and work experiences?
Remember statistics shows us diverse workforces are more successful and more profitable. Inclusion is at the core of sustainable growth for 21st century corporations. That conversation requires acceptance of inequality and inharmony of distinction. Once again, research validates that attempting to masculinize people to fit a set of standards (that are not considered natural) actually results in an environment deprived of important feminine traits that are vital to our customer satisfaction, workplace experience, and holistic thriving.