As the most sophisticated mammal living on planet Earth, humans need a strong sense of belonging to thrive. Social isolation for the past few months has taken a toll on the human psyche. Positive thoughts are known to have a profound effect on our behaviour and genes as long as they are in harmony with our subconscious programming. Similarly, negative thoughts have an equally powerful effect.
Humans are creatures of habit as our subconscious mind is fundamentally habitual. The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience. In short, the compulsory confinement, that we have all experienced, have significantly altered our perception of life. The “new normal” is not only about learning to live with the Covid 19 virus but mainly adjusting our beliefs to be able to pursue our journey towards our goals.
Jean Baptiste Lamarck, a scientist living in the eighteenth century, has promoted the theory that living beings acquire and pass on to the next generations, traits that are essential for their survival. For instance, mice have tails because they need them to survive. Their tails will disappear the day they no longer need them. The same goes for humans. We are, to a large extent, influenced by the environment that we live in. We unconsciously learn from observing and listening to other people unless we make the conscious effort of selectively choosing what we wish to learn.
The same principle applies when it comes to interacting with people who are different from us. We are unfortunately not taught how to relate to people from other backgrounds and we are unable to have an open dialogue about our differences. We are so afraid to be misunderstood that we avoid the topic altogether and stifle any natural curiosity we feel towards one another. Navigating through cultural and gender differences requires more than positive intent.
All great relationships are built on the essential principles of trust and respect. But people build trust in different ways and conflicts arise when people expect others to behave the same way they do or they rely on stereotypes to understand each other. For instance, men tend to think that women get emotional when they are under pressure. The most common mistake that both men and women make is assuming that they will automatically understand each other because they share common interests or goals. Men and women are wired differently. Both have to educate each other and leverage their differences between genders to work together.
During the past few decades, we have witnessed the increasing participation of women in most economic sectors. Women now have tremendous purchasing power and can provide different perspectives to leadership decisions. With the current socio economic conditions, businesses are in dire need of finding innovative options to reinvent themselves and continue to participate in the economic development of their countries. To build a profitable and sustainable business in this new global landscape, business leaders cannot afford to exclude the talent, resources, and perspectives that differ from the dominant environment.
Regulations ensuring equal pay and representation as well as protection against discrimination are necessary but not adequate to make space for those who don’t fit the “mainstream”. It is easy to get cynical about managing gender differences when you don’t see positive examples to emulate. It does take a lot of courage and a strong sense of initiative to value differences. If we, as the human community, are unable to get the small things right, we shall not be making the most of our resources and fully realize the potential that we are capable of.