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!

Spotting The Big Difference Between Charming and Sincere

  • MFAAdmin
  • October 2, 2016

We live in a time of sizzle and dazzle, quips and giggles. It’s not a time to do deep dives into any subject.

How do I know?

I’ve fool-hardheartedly been following the Presidential election soaps on television and twitter.

I’ve been wondering why and when we turned from substance to slander and superficiality.

I want someone to blame. I want something to blame.

Ah, technology did it. Or maybe it’s because we have free reign to get guns and shoot them whenever we want. I know, it’s because we did not build enough walls to keep “them out” or to keep “those in.”

I got it!

It’s my parents fault. They were too busy making a living to really live. Busy, busy, busy all the time. Ah, that’s how I learned that life is about stuffing ourselves with stuff.

And that leads me to the social narcissism I see that is clogging our relationship system today.

I have a warning: STOP and listen. STOP and question. STOP and say NO.

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.

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.

Stuck Plumbing?

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I am a newly named director in a major tech company. We have been around for many years and have so many systems in place. However, what cannot be programmed (wish it could be!) are the human beings who surround me.

Here is my dilemma: my boss is a mixture of a micro-manager and a hands off do-it-yourself type. The combination is crazy making. She is, in your pattern terms, a persecutor always looking over my shoulder to see what is not being done right, and an avoider who hates conflict.

Now I have studied your patterns and I am a bona-fide avoider, especially of speaking up to power. And my boss is very powerful. They even say she could be the next CEO. I am working at transforming my avoider pattern and becoming an initiator and it works with many. However, with her I tread lightly.

Example: If I ask her for help when I have been at a meeting and I need to report back and I am not sure what to do she always says “I was not there so I can’t help you.” And with that she waves her hand and dismisses me. I do not think she has my back and I am fuming inside.

It makes me nervous to say something to her and I feel all my upset at her and at myself, backing up inside. Suggestions?

GUTSY WOMEN For FREEDOM

We all know about George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock. They are reminders of how determined we must all be when freedom is put in harm’s way.

I have always wondered about the women of the Revolution. In school all we were taught was that Betsy Ross was known for sewing the American flag. Now, that in itself is a marvelous undertaking. However, there were so many others who we need to know and honor.

So I did some research and felt a swell of pride about the courage and the well…GUTSINESS for so many who risked their lives and did not hold back out of fear. Here are some of our heroines:

Like Deborah Sampson cut her hair, bound her breasts and put on a uniform to fight next to the men.

Like Ann Bates, a Philadelphia school teacher who changed her name and sold supplies to the British as a way to spy on them and bring information back to General Washington’s troops.

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?

Prioritize!

When your technical skills are great and you really care about your constituents you should be getting lots of kudos for your work.

Right? Well…not so fast.

Number one is, you MUST prioritize your RELATIONSHIPS.

So often people skills are what creates a limiting career path. Now, what exactly do I mean? I mean YOUR personality may be the limiting factor.

Here is an example: Jim, the head of client services in a large company was in charge of buying and placing new furniture for the open space casual meeting area. There was a team meeting and the team decided what they wanted. Hear me…the TEAM DECIDED. They even picked the fabric colors and decided how to have the furniture lend in a soothing way with the colors of the walls.

All well and good. Almost!

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