The Colors of Gender Thanks to Modern Marketing and Ancient Ancestors

From the day you were born, even before conception, there are beliefs and stereotypes that are attached to gender.

Let’s consider the color continuum for gender. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Right? Where did this begin? Who decided which colors belong to which gender?

Here is a brief trip through history. In the 1800’s all babies, male and female, wore white “dresses” in infancy. Thus, babies were gender neutral. These sacks were easy for changing diapers and to bleach when they became dirty.

Then around the 1920’s Western parents began dressing the little ones in colors. Pink was associated with boys. Yes, you heard me, boys. Here is the rationale: red is a bold and brave color and too strong for children so, boys got the watered-down version…pink.

Blue, a more subdued color was for girls. And by the way, blue was associated with the Virgin Mary, thus a color of purity. Just saying!

Do You Want To Change?

There is an old saying, “Technology changes, people don’t.”

It’s kind of depressing to think that with all the good stuff at our finger tips, we are not much different from Neanderthal man and woman.

Well, maybe we dress better.

As social beings, everything we do is interactive and contextual. And yes, technology has changed much of our behavior and much of our behavior dictates what is next in technology.

What hasn’t changed is that our interactive behaviors create different kinds of experiences, and that is where we really need to think about what kind of experience do we want to create, at home and at work.

The excellent book, “An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, explores the essence of relating in the modern workplace.

A Vital Missing Piece Of The Workplace Puzzle

Since most of us prefer information to be fast and direct, here is the missing puzzle piece right up front: what happened in our original organization, the family, goes with us to work…whether we like it or not.

When I stumbled on this counter-intuitive nugget of knowledge it changed the direction of my career to work exclusively with businesses to rethink the causes of stress related issues and interpersonal conflict.

I used to believe the common philosophy that there needed to be clear boundaries between home and work. The “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mindset is the one to live by.

Right?

Not really. While most of the time we can maintain clear boundaries, when stress hits the hot button all hell can break loose.

Over the top stress can be a deal breaker. It impacts physical health, emotional perspectives and important relationships.

While I adhere to great stress reduction techniques, there is one area that exercise, yoga, deep breathing, massage or mindfulness could not touch.

Sadly, it held me back from promotions and workplace success. I also lost some good friends and colleagues over my behavior. Even traditional psychotherapy never gave me the answers I needed.

When I became an entrepreneur and owned a business, I was finally forced to take a deeper look into that dark part of my behavior and grab the darn puzzle piece that had been eluding me for decades.

First, the back story.

Watching my father die from a sudden heart attack when I was fourteen was, no surprise, a master game-changer. My older brother was off to college and there I was, left with a gaping hole at home including a fearful and depressed mother.

Eventually, scabs formed over the trauma and to the outside world all was now fine. Different, yet fine.

Life goes on. I put the past behind and focused on the future. I used the present as a launching pad for what was next.

Except…the past is always part of the present and helps to determine the future. I chose to ignore the past. It was too painful.

As a young manager I was empathetic, encouraging and energetic. Yet, when someone left my team for another opportunity I judged them. I loudly predicted they would want to come back. I decided never to talk with them again. It was not pretty.

I became a real witch.

Most of us believe that we make work decisions based on conscious deliberation. One important study found that our unconscious brains are engineering our decisions milliseconds before our conscious brains can get around to them. German brain scientist John-Dylan Hayes states “Our brains make decisions based on emotional and rational assessment that we’re not aware of; only later after the decision is actually made do we explain our decisions and actions to ourselves.”

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we now know that our unconscious emotions occupy a different region of the brain, often exerting a more powerful influence on our preferences and actions. Daniel Siegel’s book “The Developing Mind” synthesizes information to explore the idea that interpersonal experiences impact the structure and function of the brain.

Enter Lisa.

Lisa was my assistant. She was woven from angel cloth. We worked together in tandem, the flow was amazing.

One sunny May day she wanted to talk with me and my partner (who was also my husband). The look of delight on her face made me uneasy. We exchanged pleasantries and finally she blurted out “I love working here and so it is hard for me to say I will be leaving in six weeks. You have always taught everyone to grow to their fullest potential. I was hoping that I would get enough money back from income tax to return to school and, yes, it happened.”

She waited to hear congratulations.

Instead I burst into tears and said through gulps of air “Lisa, you can’t leave.”

Lisa sat, with that deer in the headlights look, while my husband took my hand and said “Sylvia, she’s going back to school. This is all good.”

Then he “got it” and asked Lisa to leave us for a bit.

“What’s up” is all he said.

Leadership Lessons How To Raise Healthy Kids To Be Excellent Leaders

We know all the basics: lots of fresh air, sleep, fruits and vegetables, friendships, and loving parents.

There is one extra area that works like a charm. It is kids teaching kids.

You see, too much adult supervision and youngsters stop listening. All they hear is blah, blah, blah. And more than that, there is a deep pattern starting when the little ones are around two years old to say “NO.”

Enter the peer group.

No, I’m not talking about in the teen years when there is the fear of rebelling and going to the dark side with friends. I’m talking about when friendships are forming and behavior patterns can be developed amongst the youngsters for good habits.

Gender Equality Isn’t About Women Winning And Men Losing

Consider for a moment that women and men have never been equal at any time in history – not ever. This is a staggering thought, and it makes it clear that we are sailing in uncharted waters. It’s why there is no ‘best practice’ in place and no magic wand. What we are involved in is a process of experimentation and socialization that should be moving humanity forwards, to the benefit of all.

Equality is sometimes confused with ‘sameness’, which misses the point – unless we’re talking of equal rights and opportunities. There are two genders for a reason. Both have enormous strengths and both are needed to create a balanced and functioning society. Now women are becoming GUTSY and daring while men are responding by becoming more caring. This is a much better equation.

Would women make the situation any better?

How To Get Heard After You’ve Been Whacked Upside The Head

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I know you think that we can all transform our negative patterns. I have my doubts. You see, I read your book…twice! And I still have a serious problem.

I took the Pattern Aware Quiz and know I am considered a persecutor/bully. I have worked hard to change my style from being sharp and caustic with my team members. The transformation from persecutor to visionary just ain’t working!

Right now my job as team leader is on the line. My supervisor has put me on a performance improvement plan since three team members said I am negative and judgmental.

Help!

Signed,

Sweet and Kind Underneath

Dear S and K,

Always remember, the menu is not the meal! While you have read my book…twice…it takes more than reading and agreeing. It takes ACTION. And for many of us, it often takes a wake-up call to begin the hardest part of pattern transformation.

Knowing the patterns is not enough. Even understanding where they developed (hint: most likely in your original organization, the family) is not enough. It is the strength training of daily decisions to redo your communication with others that is the key to success.

Your supervisor has given you the gift, a whack on the side of your head which may get you going.

Can BAD People Be Good Leaders?

When Tom was fired from his CEO position there were lots of heads shaking side to side wondering what happened.

Tom was a charismatic kind of guy who was always telling funny jokes and encouraging everyone to do the best they could do. He was both cheerleader and coach.

So what happened?

Let’s face it. Business can be brutal at the top rungs. The rules of the jungle often apply and if it is eat or be eaten…well the answer is obvious.

While Tom was seen as a ‘good guy’ by most of the world, in the inner sanctum of senior leadership he was known to bully, intimidate and often twist the truth. He wanted success and his non-verbal mantra was ‘success at any cost.’

How did it happen?

Toxic Woman At Work

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

The past few weeks have been like living in a super hot hell. There have been a ton of arguments and drama, mainly because one woman wants her way and is dividing our staff (we only have 20 people working on-site).

There is Team A (Suzie’s team) and Team B (my team). It is evenly split with 10 for Suzie and 10 for me, Samantha. No real work is getting done. The issues are so stupid I don’t even want to mention them. It is, so my friends at other organizations tell me, not that different from what they have experienced.

However, it is getting worse. Untrue comments are flying around (on both sides I might add) and the two of us are having a meeting with HR at the end of this week.

HELP!

What To Do When You’ve Said Too Much

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I read your post yesterday in Examiner.com about anger and by the time I was finished I was sad and depressed.

You see, I have come to realize I have a problem with saying way more than is necessary when I get upset. At work they even sent me to an anger management class after I slammed my computer shut and stormed out saying I would probably never come back.

EXCEPT

I am a highly paid VP and I am super good at my job as a market analyst and I love my job. I even love the company I work for.

Funny that I don’t show anger at home, only at work. What is that about?

I almost ruined my career and in the process almost ruined some deep and important friendships at work. I am usually a mild tempered really good guy.

Any suggestions on how to get the ‘egg off my face’ and how to clean up the mess I left behind?

Is Low Stress At Work The Best Stress?

Imagine a work setting where you go into the office in the morning and are greeted by a concierge taking your order for a nutritious breakfast that will be delivered to you at your desk. In the background is music deemed perfect to activate the creativity centers of your brain.

Read more of: Is Low Stress at Work the Best Stress?

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