It went well.
Actually, I got to enjoy a "woman only" environment. And I mean "enjoy". I don't work with many women and the ones I work with are usually on the opposite end of an issue, so it's rarely "enjoyable".
On Day 2 I found myself realizing I am the target of lots of assumptions. Normally I deal with male-oriented assumptions and after a life-time of those they pretty much wash past me because I've heard it a million times. Man-based assumptions have to do with assessing my role and what kind of tool or obstacle I will be for them: I'm the note taker, the coffee maker, the road block, etc.
Apparently women (the Big A's anyway) look at me and judge my character. They assume that I feel confident, I don't trash-talk myself, that I have some sort of internal well-spring of strength that prevents me from ever doubting myself.
Oh dear, I've been miss-billed. Who wrote THAT script?
It went something like this:
We talked about how to take a compliment. The comment she made was that Big A's automatically deflect the compliment (more discussion on how we do that). She then suggested that Little A's accept compliments and even agree; they don't deflect or doubt themselves. Everyone looked at me and I had the "are you nuts???" look on my face. So I took the stage, so to speak.
If you didn't know me before 1997, then you don't know how radically different I am now. Before 1997 I never said "no", I had the disease to please, I naively believed that if I followed the rules and worked hard that I would be rewarded, I was an obedient daughter who became an obedient college student and an obedient employee. I feared confrontation and had to become physically angry in order to disagree with someone. I had to change in order to survive and I shared that in-depth with the class. I explained in detail how I was driven to the point of self-destruction and I had to make a choice: believe what I was being told or disbelieve what I was being told and change. I changed. I told the class about the self-awakening confrontation with my boss where I calmly told him to "fuck off".
The entire group was overwhelmed. I was describing them when I was telling them how passive I was. I was describing them when I was telling them how I was treated like a doormat. They actually cheered and clapped when I told them the "fuck off" part. (And there I was concerned that I was going to upset them with foul language). The teacher was a pro and thanked me for opening up, then said, "That's right ladies. When a Little A snaps, watch out." She took the talk in a really positive direction and used my tale as a cautionary.
Me? I got up and walked out. I was vibrating inside and had this ball of energy which I needed to walk off. It's hard to talk about that period in my life without reacting. What AMAZED me was all the hugging. The teacher followed me outside, thanked me for sharing, said a few insightful things, and gave me a hug. I race walked around the hotel for a few minutes and then hit the bathroom to wash my hands (water is very calming, too). This coincided with the break and as these women who are essentially strangers came into the bathroom, which is a somewhat intimate environment with dim lights and soft music, they thanked me. Several of them introduced themselves, thanked me for opening up, hugged me, had tears in their eyes, and more than one said that my story was helping them because they were at their own cross-roads of change.
What struck me was that men would never do that. Neh-VER! I don't think aggressive Little A's would have thanked/hugged in the bathroom either. They would have probably high-fived me and given some ass-kicking pointers.
I am mulling this over. There is something really special about the Big A's that I hadn't really connected with before. I'm still digesting it, but I think the world needs Big A's. And it's not that I think the Big A's should stay passive; whether you're passive, assertive or aggressive you're still the same person at your core. It's about balance, perspective, warmth/coolness; teams are stronger if there's a mix that within itself can respect each others strengths.
The rest of the day was spent on communication techniques. While my Big A sisters were practicing saying "no", I was practicing "no" without actually using the word "no". I got to be the person that they had to confront in our small group exercises; I took too much enjoyment in throwing them curveballs. And we watched a GREAT video on how men and women communicate, how they hear and react to the way the other gender speaks, etc. The speaker highlighted the Boy and Girl Scout Oaths.
Boys: I will do my duty.
Girls: I will try.
I think I'm a hybrid in this area and I figure it's because I work and generally live in the world of man-speak. But more on that later. I also got a book on body language and communication. Muh-ha-ha... Soon I shall take over the world...One gesture at a time. LOL