I have always wanted to use the phrase : “Act your gender”. It was of course completely made up by me, which may be one of the reasons I want to flaunt it. There is another reason though and it is that this completely made up phrase is actually also great advice.
It’s not new age thinking, this “act your gender” philosophy. Why just the other year we were storming into bookstores to covert our own copies of Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Man, Think like a Lady. Did you see what I did there? I deliberately confused you by using conflicting ideals as one. We often feel this way when we absorb and consider all that is said about who we ought to be- who men should be, who women should be.
In trying to prove my theory of ‘act your gender”, I sought out current research on the effectiveness of using sex to gain favour in the business world from people far more in the know, specialists the likes of entrepreneur Christopher Flett, author Geoffrey Miller and psychologist Charmaine Mojapelo. To put it mildly, I couldn’t have found three schools of thought farther apart. Ladies first:
Aggression is a requirement of business: this is the gist of the Mojapelo theory. In her professional opinion, in business both men and women have to act a little more aggressively than normal. She believes that in a competitive environment such as in business, it is most beneficial for one to “channel their inner masculinity”. “People in the business world respond more positively to stern people who are able to relent and earn their place there,” explains Mojapelo.
Flett on the other hand believes that since men already sexualize the women they work with, fighting boardroom battles with tricks such as a little harmless flirting might backfire on women. Along with that, Flett cautions against what he terms girlfriend-style bonding. “It is always better to be extremely professional rather than treating other women like 'girlfriends' and sharing things that might come back to bite you,” he asserts.
Perhaps the studies that resonate the most with my “act your gender” theory are those of author, psychologist and business man Geoffrey Miller. In his Freud inspired theory, Miller sees sex everywhere and considers it the wind beneath the sails of many marketing successes. Miller expounds this thought in an acclaimed book titled “Spent- Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behaviour”.
My take? Men and women are, at least in the opinion of the above experts, distinctly endowed with attributes unique to them. Women are taught they are feminine and men, masculine. While men may also be told that masculinity is taunt, strong and inflexible, there have been many men who have advanced quite far because of their ability to lead in a nurturing way, and so forth. And even some of the worst stories of unflinching feminism by women leaders now reveal those same man-eaters as surprisingly feminine and charming. Therefore, what we are then saying is that even concepts of masculinity and femininity have also undergone evolution or at the very least, redefinition.
One thing the experts would agree with me on is that how we use our gender is a personal choice. However, those who wish to test the theory of ‘acting your gender” will benefit from these tips:
Power Dress, Power Talk and Power Walk!
Both men and women respond positively to confidence, self-assurance and competence in a man. A well-dressed man is of great comfort to anyone seeking to spend their hard earned money. People enjoy supporting something believable and bankable and nothing says “bank on me” better than a great first impression. A gentleman who dresses to reflect his confidence, competence and integrity is a different man to one who dresses to impress however: please be wary of the latter.
Talk and walk go hand-in-hand with a well presented business man. Talk refers to how you communicate yourself both verbally and through body language. It pays to invest in ensuring that your attitude and thinking is that of a winner so that you do not confuse others with conflicting body language. Walk, on the other hand, speaks to your integrity and to the man you are. People who cannot walk their talk are not credible and will find it rather difficult to sell themselves as accomplished men of their world.
Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice….
You may find it regressive and insulting to read this, however there is much power in feminine prowess. While it might not require stare downs, huffing and puffing, femininity accomplishes a great deal in all aspects of life, including in business. Imagine for a moment that you chose to resolve conflict in a more constructive, more nurturing manner: this would be referred to as feminine. It is women’s ability to create, grow and preserve that make them formidable homemakers, parents and protectors however corporations are also created, nations grown and legacies preserved. Women, and most especially ladies, have a very definite and irreplaceable place in the world.
Dress, talk and walk should reflect your feminine gender. Dress can affect the mood of another positively if executed well: read the upcoming article titled The Power Dress to learn how to create a positive and progressive image for your career in business.
Whether you believe in raw energy and animal prowess, subtle and tactful advances toward business success, Sigmund Freud or acting your gender, you are sure to fare well in any endeavor if you remember to remain loyal and true to who you are. At the end of your run, your legacy will not be that you were the best representation of your gender there ever was but that you were one of the best human beings to have ever lived!
©RSGG Mashabela 2013.
In : Business
Tags: sex feminism gender management entrepreneurship leadership success prowess freud