Women versus Men: Connection and Success

Women spend a significant amount of time focusing on the needs and wants of everyone else in their lives. This is a key strength, but it is also a key weakness. If you don’t make a conscious, disciplined effort to shift that focus back to yourself and think about the importance of protecting yourself when you are connecting with others, there is a great risk that you will undercut yourself.

All women need to remember what the flight attendant says at the beginning of each flight: “If you are traveling with a small child and the oxygen mask drops, put that mask over your own face first.  It is only when you are strong enough to take care of yourself that you will have the strength to take care of that child.”

Those instructions are valid for women in more situations than a crisis in the air.

They apply to a women’s role at home, at work and in the community.

Psychoanalyst Jean Baker Miller, the author of Toward a New Psychology of Women, and first director of the Stone Center at Wellesley College, developed the “Relational-Cultural Theory” with her colleagues. Their work suggests that all growth occurs in connection, that all people yearn for connection, and that growth-fostering relationships are created through mutual empathy and empowerment.

The other side of this is disconnection.

That is when relationship connection no longer works or has become uncomfortable. When this happens, if the less powerful person is able to express her feelings and the other person is able to respond empathetically, disconnection can actually lead to a strengthened relationship and a strengthened sense of relational competence. If however the injured or less powerful person is unable to express her feelings or receives a response of indifference, she will begin to keep aspects of herself out of the relationship in order to maintain the relationship.

This very complicated analysis is at the heart of the difference between men and women in the work force.

Because so much of what a woman values is the connection and the relationship with others, when that is not reciprocated or encouraged, it impedes a woman’s ability to succeed. Men, on the other hand, don’t have that problem. They measure their success on their individual ability to get ahead and are not as bogged down by how they are judged in relationships with others.

Men are not afraid of ruffling the feathers of those they work with to achieve success.

Patricia Annino is a nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  For more visit:  www.patriciaannino.com

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