Get real!

Have you ever had the misfortune of meeting or knowing a gender-insensitive man in your office, workplace or organization? They are not difficult to spot. These are the bunch of people who turn resentful whenever a woman is given the opportunity to shine and captivate an audience including management or leadership; and feel threatened whenever a woman is acknowledged capable to execute a man’s supposedly highly sensitive work. Get real! This is not the forties man! Today is 2004, and with that the changes in mindsets, attitudes and paradigms.

Have you ever heard of the cellular phone and texting? Telecommunications has become the global paradox. With it, the world has become both bigger and smaller at the same time. The world has turned bigger because with each technological advancement and discovery, we are expanding our horizons; and smaller because now, we can easily connect to the farthest country on earth. Thanks to telecommunications.

And yet, here we are confronted with adult men whose mindsets are remnants of the Spanish era – where women were boxed and their opportunities limited to getting married and raising children. Hello!

I can only commiserate with the miserable lives of these men whose attitudes on women are very parochial and stereotypical. Their minds are so small and shallow. No wonder they have not gone a notch higher in stature and prominence.

It’s not enough that they sabotage a woman’s best effort; they even go to the lengths of assassinating her character. And with that, they start thinking they have won the game. Sorry people, women are cut out differently. Let us revisit the strength of women, shall we? Women are stronger emotionally. Women keep families intact. Women hold the balance in the family. A woman is the epitome of equilibrium through all the bad and tough times. That’s why we dearly love our mothers.

There are also supposedly younger men who have become disciples of these narrow and shallow-minded gender-insensitive adult men. You think that because they were born much, much later, they are more attuned to the changes in the world. You think wrong. These young gender-insensitive men easily fall on the list of disciples because they don’t know anything at all. They don’t read books and don’t adopt new thoughts and paradigms. They simply remain ignorant, dull, and worse, mediocre. Poor men. To think, they come from a younger generation.

So what do women do given the undeserved criticism of these traditional, dull, mediocre small-minds? I can only venture one recommendation. Take the high road and continue making a difference. You owe it to your Maker to maximize your gifts. According to the “Purpose-Driven Life” book, “by maximizing your potentials, you give greater glory to God who in the larger picture, made you for a purpose. Remember you did not happen by chance; God planned you.”

Sustain the desire to excel in the areas of your expertise and be the best in your field. The world will not stop to listen to the gripes and bitterness of a gender-insensitive man. If you listen to him, you give him undeserved attention. What good does that do to you? None. Remember, it’s not a woman’s problem if a man’s mind is small, shallow, traditional, and mediocre. If an adult man wants to grow up, by all means, let him. If he needs help, assist him. Bring him to gender-sensitivity trainings; women forums, and other women-related activities; provide him good books. 

But if his only concern is to criticize you and drag you down, forget it. As the book “Maximize the Moment” says, “some luggage is not worth carrying with you. It will only pull you down with its weight. You are better off without it.”

It has always been said that acceptance of a new reality or paradigm is a difficult and painful process. It involves embracing a new life – new attitude; new approach; new outlook while discarding the old life – old attitude; old approach; old outlook. It takes courage to take on something new, which brings discomfort and lots of fears at the start; and more courage to get rid of something that we have been comfortable with for a long, long time. Continuing on the path of denial may seem easier for a time, but if we honestly try to have a fresh look from the outside, we will soon realize that we have more to lose than gain. After all, the world will not stop turning on our behalf. It will continue turning without us.

If he wants to learn it the hard way, so be it. Sooner or later, it will sink in and from his new awareness, growth. But by then, you will have made your mark.

(This article was originally written for a newspaper column in 2004.)



Gossip, anyone?

downloadAt one time or another, we could become the subject of the nastiest gossip around. These mean talk could come from either a work colleague, an immediate relation, friend, a person who is neither friend nor foe, more so, from someone who perceives us as THE enemy, be it in the sphere of politics, career or profession.

People can be really cruel. They can be malicious. They can spread rumors about us that either leaves us angry or downhearted.

But first, let us examine why others resort to this bad habit. There must be a reason. Otherwise, why bother? It would only increase the popularity or the market value of the person you are gossiping about, without you knowing it. Imagine, she (for purposes of discussion, our subject is a woman) is so important to you that you have to spend time talking about her.

I can identify three motives. The first motive could be insecurity. The “subject” of the nasty attack, could have possibly stimulated the pangs of insecurity that the gossiper has tried so hard to conceal, but unsuccessful to resolve through time. Being with her reminds the gossiper of his or her own feelings of inadequacies and unimportance. By the way, gossiping is not the exclusive domain of women. There are plenty of men-gossipers.

imagesNaturally, it is easier to character assassinate the person causing you discomfort rather than going through the process of resolving your own issues (which if you only care to explore further, is better in the long run since you get rid of the root cause of your insecurity. But that’s another topic for another column). People have the uncanny ability to pass blame on others. They will not accept fault.

Moreover, most people are always in denial. While reading this column, how many of you could possibly declare that you have processed all the issues haunting you from yesteryear?

Second, envy. You see the person as your bitter competition. Why bitter? Because the person has the talents and gifts that you don’t have. You are discontented. You are resentful. How many times has the gossiper become upset with the thought that this woman is better than him/her?

At our ages, most of us have not reached self-actualization yet. We are still struggling to create a name, or perhaps make a mark, or even get rich. Because we can’t hack it – not yet anyway, we become envious of others who have. What a sad story.

It is a sad commentary that even with the encouragement of our pastors and priests, and even our close friends to accept our present realities, and be content with what we have, we still continue on the path of denial. So many inspirational books have taught us to be content with our present situation. Time and again, we are reminded that God made each one of us unique – with distinct talents and abilities. But others have more – perhaps because they are called for a higher purpose. We should be contented with what we have – enjoy our uniqueness – and count our blessings.

Third, you are simply a ”gossiper to the core”. Gossiping is a disease. It has infected you. It has contaminated you. It has overtaken your sensible and rational mind. It simply itches not to talk about people especially their idiosyncrasies. People have become your pastime. How pathetic. You have really sunk so low in the hierarchy of civility and good manners.

People are easy prey to gossips either as the subject thereof, or being the gossip-propagator himself. People may not know that the tag “gossiper” is negative and does not speak well of the person concerned.

Unfortunately, in any work environment, there are so many who engage in this unprofessional, unhealthy and indecent lifestyle. You find them everywhere clad in so-called professional clothes, fashionable garb, uniform, or even the most ordinary day-to-day wear.

The practice of gossiping does not respect gender, profession, position, status, wealth, faith, intelligence or age. It can strike anyone.

So what are the sensible to do given the gossipers who thrive in work environments? That’s a tough question.

download (1)Let me venture a recommendation. First, identify a gossiper. It’s not difficult to spot them. They could be in front of you right now. Stay away from the gossiper for your own good – the gossiper’s spirit is so full of vile; it will contaminate you.

If you find yourself in his/her company assuming that you work together, or belong to the same club or organization, immediately extricate yourself from his/her company. In short, excuse yourself.

When you are trapped, meaning there is no exit in sight, and they start the vicious attack on a person, NEVER, ever, join them and drag yourself down to their lowly position. Do yourself a favor, save your honor and keep your dignity intact by keeping your mouth shut. Do not involve yourself in the mudslinging.

Now, when you find yourself the subject of the gossip, take the high road and totally ignore it.

images (1)Naturally, the gossip will offend your sensibilities – you are only human after all – but stooping down the gossiper’s level is the worst that could happen to you. Let their tongues rot in their own venom while you surround yourself with friends and allies. Visit your friends and allies; have dinner with them; share your momentary pain with them. Derive encouragement and inspiration from people who share the same passion, values and interests while drawing strength and shield from your God. Comfort yourself with the thought that like anything else, the gossip on you will be fleeting. It will soon pass. But through it all, you have proven yourself cut above the rest. You have managed to show them from what stuff you are made of – educated, cultured and well brought-up.

So, cheer up! You have overcome.