Over the last week I have been thinking quite a bit about how under appreciated women are in the lives of men. I am as guilty as the next guy of discounting the value of women. A large part of that is because of how men are socialized as we grow up. We are taught either directly or indirectly that women have less value, are sexual objects only and exist to be controlled and dominated by men. Even though I know it is not true it is hard not to automatically fall into those kinds of thought patterns despite my knowledge to the contrary.
I don’t want to launch into some kind of anti-man rant because that is overdone and usually not done properly. However, if men would learn to truly value women and see the incredible purpose and power they have our society would be much better off. Of course it would also be helpful if women would stop writing on Facebook and other social media outlets how terrible men are and how women don’t need men. Both of these situations are not acceptable but I will reserve the latter discussion for another day.
The next time you are with your wife, girlfriend or find yourself around several women I really want to encourage you to try to observe and learn to appreciate the opposite sex. Here are three areas that men can improve upon simply by learning to appreciate women.
1. New Perspectives
Every person, whether you are a man or a woman will have a different perspective on any given situation. However, as men we are reluctant to ask a woman’s opinion on a particular situation we are dealing with. Nowhere does this happen more than with our careers. I am not sure why we tend to not ask women how they would handle a particular situation at work but we rarely do. I know I have a hard time asking my wife about her thoughts on things I deal with at work. Often times I excuse the behavior simply because we work in two totally different (in my mind at least) environments. I easily dismiss her opinion simply by saying to myself “Well she doesn’t work in corporate America so she has no idea what it is like.” But maybe that IS the problem. Maybe I am spending too much time thinking inside the box when I need to try to step back and see things from a totally unique vantage point. Which is why I am starting to truly understand and appreciate her opinion on these kinds of things.
I realize I am giving a very specific example but my point is that your wife, girlfriend or “friend who is a woman” will have a different perspective on what you are dealing with. Why do we find it acceptable to ask several guys friends how to handle a situation but rarely will we ask a woman? You might actually be surprised to find out that what she has to say might give you a great idea or provide the necessary inspiration to sign that next big sales contract etc.
I am still a work in progress but more and more often I have been asking Sharlay and talking to her about my career and work stuff just to hear how she thinks about the situation. Sometimes she says some really brilliant things that make me have to reconsider my approach to a given situation. I have gained a new appreciation for her perspective and especially the wisdom she has shared with me that I would have never thought of myself.
She won’t always have the answers but then again most of your buddies won’t either. However, the women in your life can give you another voice, one that is very different than your own to consider when dealing with life and the daily grind. Don’t dismiss their opinion simply because they are a woman. You aren’t a Neanderthal, so don’t act like one.
Look, I know. I know, I know, I know. Just hear me out. Even to me, the thought about writing this makes me want to vomit. However, try as I might, I can’t ignore the importance of being able to take the emotional temperature of a room. Let’s be honest guys we are not very good at it, but I find that my wife is amazing (as have been other women I have know.) at it.
Like many men I am not adept at displaying emotions or reading the same of others. Men are generally taught to display only one emotion when in mixed company, anger. All other emotions, especially sadness should be kept bottled up inside until you are alone and under no circumstance should people see you cry. While I know that is mostly bullshit, it is still a trap I fall into often. However, I am not trying to make a point that you should ask your wife (or female companion) to help you get in touch with your emotional side.
My observation is simply this: women (in my opinion) are better at reading other people’s true emotions (men and women), and it is a very impressive skill. It is so impressive I am surprised there are not more seminars being taught or books being written on how to learn this skill. My boss is one of the most gifted in this area and it just so happens that she is a woman. I have seen her have great success at closing deals and getting business from clients where others (mostly men) have failed. One of the secrets to her success is her ability to bring a high degree of “humanness” to her business dealings.
When she talks with clients she always makes them feel important but not because they have the money we want, but because she takes a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives. More than that, she is able to see not just the political landscape within an organization but also the emotional one between people. When presenting to clients she is able to make the entire client team feel at ease and when she notices that one of the client contacts is clearly intimidated by another employee, she makes it a point to address the intimidated employee and give them a voice at the meeting. Suddenly, this once timid person now has confidence that their voice is being heard and becomes a valuable contributor to the meeting. I have seen many male partners totally ignore this kind of emotional and/or human issue and lose the opportunity and yet have no idea how it happened.
Women have this advantage, not because they are “too emotional” but rather because they are simply better connected to their own emotions and thus to the emotions of others. It is really a short coming of men in general. We have a hard time connecting to our own emotions so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we can’t read the same in others. As men we can always be learning new skills and this is simply one of those we can probably all use a tune-up on.
I find that both men and woman are strong and each has a particular inner strength that cannot (generally) be matched by the other. Yet as men we often dismiss a woman’s ability to be strong and to discredit those life experiences that have generated the strength that women have. Men say things like “well you should have just gotten over it” or “I wouldn’t have even let that affect me” or some other inane bullshit like that. Yet a woman’s decision to actually address a problem or deal with an emotion rather than “just get over it” gives a woman an inner strength that most men will never come close to having.
My wife is an incredibly strong woman and I don’t give her enough credit for the things in life she has had to endure. She lost her father when she was very young and even up to the point of his passing he was only half the man he was due to a serious illness. So for all intents and purposes she really didn’t have a father for the majority of her life. The loss of a man she loved so much at such a young age, made her life much more difficult than I can even appreciate. My wife has had to endure some incredible hardships and often she did it alone without the help of family or friends.
For her to have the carefree, happy-go-lucky and joyful personality that she does is a testament to her strength and of God’s grace and mercy in her life. My name, Andrew, means “strength” and over the course of my life many people (including those who don’t know me) have commented about this inner strength that I possess. Yet, there is a certain amount of strength I do not have but that I see every day in my wife. The love she has for people, even people who have let her down over and over again and violated her trust and confidence, is a strength I will never have. For me, even with my family, you only get two chances to screw up and then you are kicked to the curb. Certainly there is forgiveness (don’t get me wrong) but that pretty much seals your fate from ever being involved in my life in a meaningful way. Yet her strength allows her to continue to love and be generous to people who honestly don’t deserve it and take advantage of it.
God designed my wife very differently from me, just like he did your wife (or future wife, if you are single) which is why we make such a great married couple. She balances me out very well.
We can all learn a lot from each other and it is important we don’t dismiss the things women can teach men simply because they are “women.” We ALL fall short from time to time and that has nothing to do with our gender. Don’t allow those shortcomings of others to box you out from learning from the opposite sex (and yes I am speaking to you woman as well.)
That is all for now! Until tomorrow, make it a better day!