Emotions in the Workplace. Is there A Place For Them?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Before the advent of WWII, men comprised the majority of the workforce. These men encompassed the backbone of industry in America, and represented what we call today “men’s men.” Individuals such as these lived by the unspoken standard of “boys don’t cry,” and “work… is… not a place for (the) display of emotion.”(1) When the US government called these men to war, they left their positions, as well as that mentality, to the women who stepped up and took over their professional positions. The country thrust these women into environments where the philosophy advocated, “work should be a place of logical, rational thought, where you don’t give in to emotional thinking.” Furthermore, these working environments asserted that one “certainly (does) not display any emotions… (because) it’s both not professional and leaves (one) too vulnerable.” (1) However, then and now, women have often struggled to follow these unspoken rules of how they should conduct themselves in the workplace.

Scientific studies have shown that men and women are different physiologically. In essence, we process information differently. For example, one study showed that the “neural circuitry recruited during emotion processing differed between the sexes. Women showed neural activity in the anterior insula cortex, which processes bodily sensations. This means that they deeply experienced emotions within their bodies. Men, on the other hand, showed neural responses in the visual cortex. While processing these images, male brains immediately activated circuitry involved in regulating shifts of attention to the world (i.e., the dorsal anterior insula cortex and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex). This allowed them to shift the emotional impact of the images away from themselves.” (2) Essentially, women feel emotions deeply-even physically-while men are able to shift their thought processes away from an emotional response and deal with the matter at hand. With differences like this now being unveiled by science, and with women comprising 47% of the total workforce, is it really fair to expect women to think like men? And is this line of thought what is best for the workplace as a whole? (3)

Critics argue that differences such as these make the workplace better suited for men, then for women. Others argue that women bring authenticity to the workplace, in line with the “woke” movement or the “authentic living movement.” (4) Either way, it can be argued that it is not realistic to require women to literally change the way their brains process information. But if women are being held to an unreasonable standard, then what is the solution regarding their inclusion in the workforce?

One solution for women in the workplace is learning to disassociate themselves from emotion. Some scientists argue that this is an adaptation women can learn, and thus contribute to a rational and logical workplace for all. Indeed, learning to remove personal feelings for others in the workplace can help women prevent burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed. Learning to categorize thoughts and responses can lead to an overall less dramatic work environment. However, women who fall short of this expectation often are categorized as “crazy” when they display emotion, and women who don’t display emotion are categorized as “lacking empathy.” One can also argue that, since men and women spend more than half of their lives at work, this lack of emotion can and will bleed into our homes and society. “Such distancing….allows one to ignore the pain of others or to freely inflict such pain with little distress to oneself. Such distancing may be adaptive for combat, torture, or cruelty, but can prove problematic for developing prosocial competencies.” (2) Is a workplace and thus a society without empathy really what is best for humankind?

Another solution lies in compassion training for both genders. If women process emotion deeply-even physically, and men dissociate themselves from feelings of emotion, then “such training allows both sexes to learn to disengage in a manner that fosters benevolent action rather than succumbing to overwhelm or resorting to uncaring dissociation.” (2) Thus, with both genders learning to show compassion to others in a benevolent way, a more harmonious and empathetic workforce may likely result.

In conclusion, men and women process information differently, leading to conflicts in the workforce over proper standards of behavior. While most men dissociate themselves from emotion, most women process emotions in a deep, often physical level. Such differences can, arguably, be reconciled through compassion training for both genders. Such training teaches men and women to disengage in a manner that is benevolent rather than one lacking empathy. The result may well be a more realistic standard of behavior for both genders and a more authentic workplace for all.

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/06/06/emotions-at-work-needless-or-necessary/#714a656a917b
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-thinking/201406/are-males-and-females-equally-emotional
  3. https://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-laborforce-10.htm
  4. https://psychcentral.com/lib/ways-of-living-an-authentic-life/

Mediafy Communications Group in Chattanooga, TN announces the appointment of Jordan Moses as Social Media Manager. Formerly a chemistry major from UTC, Jordan is a passionate expert in social media and all things gaming. Originally hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Jordan is enthusiastically welcomed by the Mediafy team! Welcome, Jordan!

What is Family?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Across the United States this week, families convened for dinner in celebration of Thanksgiving. Individuals who had not seen each other for days, months, and sometimes years, sat together and ate turkey, in commemoration of the meal celebrated between the Indians and Pilgrims. As this holiday comes to a close, it then begs the question-what defines a contemporary family in the year 2018?

Many families define their relationships to one another through shared genetics and connections created by marriage. Genetic connections can create shared physical attributes, similar interests, and related professions. Additionally, hobbies may be shared, in addition to preferred foods, colors, and other similar tastes. When families are together, it is often refreshing to be surrounded by individuals who are similar to us, reinforcing our beliefs, tastes, and preferences. Yet, does this define family, or is there, more to it?

Other families define family, not through shared genetics, but by shared interests alone. One example consists of meetup groups sharing Thanksgiving together, with shared interests such as canoeing, art, music, and beer. But do shared interests alone create a family, or does there need to be more? Do these individuals qualify as family for the simple reason that they share time, joy, and holidays together, or is more required?

Individuals with shared beliefs also sometimes consider themselves family. These individuals even go so far as to refer to one another as members of a larger “church family.” Some of these churches host holiday get-togethers, either within the church or within the homes of parishioners.’ Such familial church groups have a shared faith, often coupled with shared politics, and shared customs. Because of these broad familiarities, it is not surprising that church parishioners often marry one another, extending the church family into a genetic one.

With all of the positive attributes of family, there are also families that do not enjoy each other’s company. Holidays for these individuals often occur because of family obligation created by marriage or genetics. Thanksgivings for families such as these are sometimes unpleasant, argumentative, and even fiery. It is for reasons such as these, that some people do not care for holidays, and only begrudgingly show-up for the obligatory Turkey dinner. If the individuals at hand truly do not care for one another, do they still qualify as a family? Is genetics alone enough, or is more required?

Genetics, common interests and shared faith all encompass elements that comprise a family. Some families like one another, and/or have shared interests while others do not. However, one can argue that it is none of these things alone that create a family. Some assert that, instead, it is the holidays themselves that inspire the idea of family, bringing individuals together for a meal, who otherwise might not have anything to do with one another. One can argue that holidays such as Thanksgiving make us examine what, to us, represents family-and this is ultimately a personal decision, arguably inspired by national holidays.
In conclusion, family can be defined by different standards, including, genetics, marriage, interests, and faith. However, in the end, one can state that it is none of these things that actually create a family, but instead, the holidays themselves that inspire the idea of family. By doing so, individuals come together, who otherwise might not, to take part in something larger than themselves-a national holiday. And isn’t believing in something bigger than ourselves an essential part of our own humanity?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

The heroes of yesterday were rugged, unforgiving, and victorious. The majority of early leaders got to their positions of power by whatever means necessary. They were outspoken, abrasive, and even violent, but during that day and age, those qualities were revered. Those were the qualities successful men had. However, as time marches on, many individuals argue that these heroes are undeserving of our adoration and/or attention because of their behavior. Are these people putting a modern filter on the actions of yesteryear and trying to reprehend history instead of embracing the past?

In today’s modern age, many of our traditional heroes are being attacked. Winston Churchill, the man heralded by many as the “man of the century,” is now criticized by his detractors as a racist. As a young lady, my father explained to me, “Had it not been for Winston Churchill, we would all be speaking German today.” Indeed, Churchill stood up to the tyrant Adolf Hitler, while his parliamentary contemporaries wanted to “sue for peace.” As a result, the Tory party replaced British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, with Winston Churchill, and with the support of the king and ultimately his party, Great Britain and the western world triumphantly defeated “the axis of evil.” Nevertheless, as many point out, Churchill had a dark side. “I hate Indians,” he once trumpeted. “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” And so therein lay the contradiction-the man who dared stand up to Hitler, and galvanized the world to ultimately follow his lead, nevertheless did so by whatever means necessary. Should his success be belittled in today’s society because he would be deemed racist? Following this bandwagon, General Patton, a man instrumental in leading U.S. forces during WWII, is today criticized as a bad husband, an uncaring father, and insensitive to soldiers bludgeoned by war and inflicted with PTSD. Patton had a hard-driving personality and a strong disbelief in the medical condition “combat stress reaction,” also then called “shell shock.” Should his lack of compassion for the people around him discredit the success he had in the military?

It is not only men that are in danger of the scrutiny of today’s society. Eleanor Roosevelt is criticized by the LGBT community for being a closeted lesbian. Jacqueline Kennedy is criticized for truly achieving nothing except dressing well and “riding on the coattails of her husband.” Even the memory of the beloved Princess Diana is under siege. As a young lady, Princess Diana represented my role model of choice and is still significant in my life today. While navigating puberty, anxiety, depression, and teenage rebellion, my role model provided a much needed stabilizing factor. Today, her loving nature and forgiving heart are still ideals I try to emulate. My dreams and future plans are still influenced by her; indeed, even my vacations to Europe reflect her spirit. Without the role model of Princess Diana in my life, I would not be the person I am today. With all of this historical revision occurring, it is daring us to take a closer look at our heroes. Should we hold history to today’s standards?

The young girl who would listen to her father’s stories about the bravery of Winston Churchill is now a grown woman leading a digital marketing company. Shaped by the stories of my youth, and influenced by the role model of my choice, I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. The theme of my life has been greatly influenced by many of the traditional heroes of the past and present. Young men and women growing up in the contemporary world face a plethora of challenges. From broken families, and drug addiction, to other modern day stresses, traditional role models often provide an outline for how to live one’s life well. While this is most certainly a personal choice, one can argue that the very fabric of our society, and daresay, our being, is the result of stories passed down through the generations. In a world full of troubles, for many, they represent a beacon of light. If we destroy our heroes, one can argue that we have very little left. It can be said that everyone and everything has a dark side of some sort. No one is downy white, and the world comes in shades of gray. We would do well to remember this when judging those from the past with the ideals of today. I for one am willing to look past the dark side of my role models. Instead, I choose to look toward their inherent goodness and be aware that, like my role model, I too am inherently flawed… and for me, that is okay.

Why do Women Still Make Less Than Men In The Modern Day Workforce?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Today, studies exist indicating that, on average, women in the United States make $0.77 on the $1.00 to every man. This “gender gap” as it is called, has raised real concerns amongst feminists and non-feminists alike. The parameters of the study included all women in America versus all men in America, and did not take into consideration work parity or differences such as full-time or part-time work. Many individuals felt that the lack of parameters in the study immediately debunked it, arguing that when analyzing males and females in similar positions, the gender gap dissipates, falling within the margin of error. However, this leads to an even bigger question-why are all the women in America making less than all of the men? Furthermore, who is accountable for this “gender gap,” and why does it exist?

As a female business owner, I often feel like a minority. Indeed, women are still a minority in the workforce, and even more of a minority when it comes to business ownership. Being the owner of a successful business requires razor sharp accuracy, overwhelming commitment, and unmeasurable sacrifice. My days are long, my stress levels high, and the responsibility often daunting. Yet, I choose to continue because, ultimately, I truly enjoy having a career and a life based upon achievement. This, however, is not for everyone. This then begs the question: Do American women, on the whole, choose less stressful, lower paying positions, often eschewing business ownership or higher paying positions, because of the heavy toll it can take on themselves and their families?

An analysis of the positions in my own company reveals a possible answer. While the majority of the managers in my company are women, the sales department is comprised entirely of men, save for myself. Why is this? Years ago, I asked my father why he did not have any female sales representatives in his company, of which he is CEO. My father, a proud “honorary woman,” who has championed me every step of the way in my career, sat back in his chair and answered me candidly. “Katherine, dear, I tried hiring a female sales representative a couple of years ago, but before she could start, her husband got transferred. I simply have not had any other women apply.” I heard him loudly and clearly. In this day and age, nearly sixty years after the advent of the feminist movement in the United States, the careers of wives often still take a backseat to that of their husbands.

Indeed, my company has employed female sales representatives in the past. The last one employed simply could not make it work, primarily because of issues relating to childcare. Sales jobs are typically low paying unless the sales representative produces. However, a successful sales representative often earns the most of anyone in a company-sometimes even the owner. Nevertheless, just like business owners, sales representatives work long hours, live under a cloud of stress, and sacrifice a great deal in order to make a hefty paycheck.

For many women, the jobs that pay a consistent salary or a consistent hourly wage, often represent a better alternative than the uncertainty of potentially higher paying positions. This is consistent because of societal responsibilities placed upon them. For example, if children are involved, women are often expected to be the family member retrieving the child from school, or the one to stay home if the child is ill. Women are also, on average, the primary family member expected to monitor the child’s homework, and take them to after-school activities. These responsibilities, one could assert, have contributed significantly to the gender gap.

Another issue contributing to the gender gap, is women opting out of the workforce entirely. I have some female family members and friends who have chosen to be full-time mothers and/or housewives, eschewing a career outside the home. Decisions such as these, arguably, also contribute to the finding of women making $0.77 on the $1.00 to men, since men in America very rarely have the luxury of making such a choice. However, the very fact that this statistic has been identified, means that women as a class are arguably hurting other women, albeit unintentionally, by choosing to make what they view as a “personal choice.” The saying, “The personal is political,” likely comes into play here. Essentially, their “personal choice” contributes to the gender gap, disheartening women who are battling it out in the workforce.

When individuals argue that women staying home is a personal choice, with little to no consequence on other women, one needs to look no further than “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka,” 347 U.S. 483 (1954) where the Supreme Court ruled
“separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Simply put, segregation in our society based on race is illegal. Consequently, one can also argue that segregation in our society based on gender is illegal. Perhaps this is an extreme example, but if a certain amount of African Americans decided to remain enslaved, would not other African Americans find this unacceptable? Following this logic, when a certain amount of American women decide to remain at home, should not other American women find this unacceptable? The assertion that women staying home is equal to men in the workforce is arguably a violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States. Separate is not equal-ever. It is not equal in race, and it is not equal in gender. Following suit, tax breaks for families with a mother at home are probably a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and a society that demands women to be the primary caregivers to children is a violation also. Equal is equal-period. As my husband puts it, equal rights means equal financial responsibility as well as equal pain and suffering.

It is fair to say, for the gender gap to truly disappear, deep seated changes in our society must take place. What are the solutions? Perhaps tax breaks for daycare, or expanding public education to six weeks of age. Another possibility is businesses receiving tax breaks for providing on-site daycare. Most significantly, women must be instilled with the desire to work, and to value the freedoms that a career provides them, such as economic independence and buying power. Furthermore, families must learn to share the burden of raising children and not expect mothers to be the primary caregivers. There are a plethora of ideas one can put forth that could help alleviate or even eliminate the gender gap. As a feminist, and as a business owner, I search for these solutions on a daily basis. However, today, in 2018, the gender gap still exists, and the struggle for gender equality is still very real and ongoing.

In conclusion, as a female business owner, I am in a unique position to help other women in the workforce, while also observing the societal forces that continue to hold us back. In order for the gender gap truly to be overcome in the United States, it can be argued that we must abandon the thought that women staying home is a personal choice of no consequence to working women. Instead, women must start viewing themselves as a class of individuals, deserving of more than “separate but equal.” Equal rights for all means equal responsibility for all. Only when we as a society make this paradigm shift, will the decidedly disappointing gender gap truly disappear.

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Transformation in the business atmosphere is integral for the growth of companies. Employees must inhabit an environment where they are valued, cared for, and their personal growth is at the forefront. By creating such an atmosphere, employees take care of the clients in a transformational manner. When new ideas are posed, innovation occurs, and employee turnover is minimal as well as the turnover of clients. However, in order for such an atmosphere to thrive, clients must be transformational also-meaning they want to employ the services offered to them in furtherance of a transformational environment for themselves and their clients. This is the key that makes the circle go “round and round.”

Clients typically cancel for the following reasons:

  1. They feel the service they have purchased is not being provided to them as promised.
  2. They do not see the value in what they have purchased.
  3. They have found a company that can provide to them what they perceive to be a similar service at a lower price.

My fifteen years in the business world have taught me how to overcome the majority of these objections. For example, by creating a transformational business environment, one can attract and retain competent employees who, because they feel valued, in turn, value the clients of your company. The environment in which they work fosters one where everything promised to a client is delivered and more. This should, in theory, eliminate the objection of a client claiming they did not get what they had been promised.

The second objection of clients not seeing the value of what they have purchased is consistently overcome by staying in contact with clients and explaining to them the value and benefits of what they are receiving. This is achieved by maintaining the manpower necessary to visit clients on a regular basis, so they do not feel forgotten. I have learned that a “neglected client” is an unhappy client. No matter how much work you are doing behind the scenes, if a client does not see your face at least fairly regularly, the turnover of this client is inevitable.

The third objection, comprised of finding a company offering what is perceived as a comparable service at a lower rate, is also overcome by staying in contact and establishing value. When the return on investment is more than the initial expense, the service paid for itself, and that is the ultimate goal. Tying in with the second objection, the value must be established in order for clients to resist being tempted to go with what they perceive to be a cheaper solution. As we all know, something cheaper always exists, but simply and truly, you “get what you pay for.”

After all of these factors have been taken into consideration, and preemptively dealt with, why does client turnover still occur? As previously stated, the circle of transformation must be complete in order for it to accurately work, just like the wheel of a car will not perform properly if it has a hole. Quite simply, transformative businesses require transformative clients-that is, clients who want to employ your services in order to contribute to the transformative environment they are fostering for themselves, their employees, and, in turn, their own clients.

A strategic partner I have has said to me, “I have fired clients, and I have let clients expire, but rarely if ever do I take them to court. If they do not value what I am doing, I will let them go.” She has a point. As a transformational business person, we need to pick like-minded clients. If we do not, the struggle is almost not worth it.

Surprisingly, the royal family of England is an excellent example of a transformational “company.” The Queen of England provides a constantly evolving environment for her family and employees. The mere existence of Meghan Markle in the royal family is indicative of the family’s ability to adapt. Twenty years ago, a divorced American actress would have never perceived joining the royal family as a positive career move, much less a possible lifestyle choice. Megan has been given the opportunity to take on a royal role and make it her own. Of course, there are guidelines, but the restrictions placed upon her are no more than those placed upon individuals within a corporate environment. Without its transformational nature, the British monarchy would have been thrown out long ago. All businesses, in order to stay relevant, must evolve and change.

In conclusion, there are three main objections put forth by clients regarding cancellations. While transformational working environments can adequately overcome these objections, client turnover can still occur if the clients themselves are not as adaptive to change. A broken wheel cannot turn, and in order for the wheel of transformation to go “round and round,” both vendor and client must share this same philosophy. If they do not, then no amount of hard work or innovation can overcome client turnover. Just as the royal family of England has found regarding their own family and employees, businesses must have innovation and transformation in order to survive and thrive.