Saturday, August 2, 2008

A second look at women's dynamics

The first time i witnessed a group of women fight each other (literally hitting each other) was in 1995. This time the same situation arose between my co-workers. I was unable to do anything to stop one from hurting the other (though verbally). So, what i did was to listen to the one left behind. The next day, i also talked with other women in the office who witnessed the verbal infightings. The following day, I spent some time with one of them, threshing out the roots of their conflict. Funny, because it was not due to 'negative past encounters'. It was more of an emotional thing: one rejects the other in their first encounter. Then, I also spent some time with the other party. The other woman was pointing to 'professionalism' and 'ethics' as issues sans the emotional thing. Between them, the latter was more straightforward in saying what she feels. the former was more of the 'demure' type or one who does not show her feelings publicly. Afterwhich, yesterday we had a meeting (formal one) among us. i was at the middle. guess what happened? i was so afraid that the meeting would never take off because of the contention if it must be taped or not. Of course, just to let the meeting proceed, we did not tape it. For the simple reason that one wants to bring home the tape and transcribe it (using the term 'professional transcribers). Fortunately, the other party gave in. So, she did not respond violently to the following remarks: "I am pulling ranks"; "I am the coordinator, I will the parameters; if you don't want to obey, you can consider your options". I never imagined hearing those threats from a woman leader. I tried to resist the urge of arguing because I knew that was not our goal. Our goal was to move the unit forward so that we can proceed with our job or service to other women. If we will argue with her, it will hamper our day-to-day operations. So, at the close of the meeting, we produced SOPs of doing things. A second look at this kind of women-to-women dynamics also bring me to a deja vu because this was the same dynamics that I faced then; but now, I knew enough: 'quitting' the post is not a sustainable solution to the 'power' problem. It pays to stay and strategize of how the surface the 'truth' or wisdom of leading people, particularly women, in a more creative, open, and expansive ways. Kudos to both of us and may the Force of truth be with us and for those who dare to imagine different ways of handling 'normative' lifework like running a group of women...

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