Saturday, April 19, 2014

All the Single Ladies

A while ago Nan read an interesting research statistic to me.

Men in leadership usually choose a team that will support them whereas women in leadership tend to choose a team that will challenge them.

As a business owner I have seen this dynamic in action as well. When a team member is seen as too aggressive or contrary, especially if there is an angry edge or a feeling of veiled anger, male leaders will often see them as someone who needs to be “handled”, isolated or eliminated, often to the surprise of the person who assumed that that was their role. Thinking that they are demonstrating competence and initiative, they are surprised when they are demoted rather than promoted.

I believe it is the same in relationships.

When a woman aggressively challenges her partner, he is likely to respond by creating some kind of distance, either by using anger to push her away, or by withdrawing physically or emotionally.

I know this can be confusing to a woman, who may see her behavior as an attempt at shared intimacy or connection or relational mutuality or equality. But most men will not interpret it the same way. He will often see it as threatening or disrespectful.

What can a woman do to feel more like a partner in the relationship? I would suggest an approach that would be labeled “gentle persuasion”. This is not nagging, which carries the tone of disappointment with the person, but rather an attitude of kind support, even though there is a difference of opinion.

I can admit that if it were not for Nan’s gentle persuasion, I would ignore many aspects of self care as well as social connection. Instead of showing irritation with me, she is just persistent. Do I like it? No, not really, but I know I need it. And it feels supportive rather than confrontational.

I have targeted this post for single ladies because there are many women who miss this or think this is unfair, but the result is that they don’t get chosen and they don’t know why. Or they do get chosen and then feel emotionally isolated down the road.

Dr. John Gottman (relationship expert par excellence) describes the divorce profile as:

“A husband unwilling to be influenced by his wife and a wife who starts quarrels harshly and with anger.”

So ladies I am suggesting that you become an expert at gentle influence and hopefully you will be in a relationship with a guy who will appreciate it.

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