When you think of power, you might think of competition, masculinity, success, aggressiveness, or capitalism.
Now think about compassion. You might think of nurturing, cooperation, femininity, and empathy.
When you’re working as a team and looking to empower all team members, which words would you rather associate yourself with? If you’ve been on a team in which know-it-alls value their own voices over others’ – and no one speaks up about it – you’ve been on a team that values power over cooperation. So long as the group doesn’t stop the abuse of power, the group values masculinity over femininity just like our culture in general.
So workplace bullying – aggression rooted in the idea that we must break the backs of co-workers to get ahead – stems from our cultural emphasis on masculinity. If we want to be happier, we as a society, and as individuals working in teams, have to also value femininity. We have to more often trade in promoting those who are aggressive and competitive and who dictate for promoting those who show cooperation, collaboration, and compassion and who raise questions. As a result, we’ll trade in loneliness and isolation for connectedness, community, and well-being. We’ll live in a culture whose members values human needs over profit instead of the other way around.
As women gain stronger voices in the workplace, we as a culture demand more cooperative workplaces. But why are we so afraid to get there? Why are we as a society so afraid to trade in the hypermasculine – competitive, aggressive, and powerful – for a more feminine – cooperative, compassionate, and nurturing – culture?