Friday, April 29, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Trust: Women Who Don’t Help Other Women

I’m going to start this series with the ticklish issue of trust between women, because it’s the one area where, when we’re good, we’re very, very good; but when we’re bad, we really let ourselves down in big, symbolic ways. My daughter’s generation nailed it when they coined words and phrases like “frenemies,” “mean girls,” or “Queen Bees and wannabes.” This proliferates the workplace where adult women often find themselves confounded by rivalries and conflicts, and feeling ill-equipped to deal with them.

Madeline Albright said, famously, ”There's a special place in Hell reserved for women who don't help other women.” And trust is the foundation of any helping process.

I've given—and received—enough help to know the transformative power it has over us.

On the downside, over the years I've been approached by working women who’d “talked bad” about my work or services behind my back but, upon going freelance themselves, felt no qualms about inviting themselves into my network. This I’ve found intriguing because when it comes to trust, it helps if the individual realizes any networking relationship is part of a longer-term, two-way street.

So here are my (post-feminist) concerns:

• Why wouldn't you help anyone who asked for it, male or female? Are we to suspend all critical thinking on the basis of gender only? Is a woman more entitled to my help than a man?

• Would you withhold help from a qualified male in preference for a less qualified female? And by doing that, are we then not perpetuating the very behavior we deplore in “the old boys' network”?

Finally, the karmic panhandlers. These are the folks who have no problems reaping the benefits of trust, but they haven't earned the right to our unquestioning support. Next week I’ll talk some more about this, especially in light of concepts that suggest some of us are entitled to automatic dollops of trust from others.

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