Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Diffuse Awareness or Single Focus?

Recently, I consulted at a local bank to do crisis intervention  with the employees after a robbery the day before.My experience at this intervention was not unlike others I have facilitated, particularly one where the young woman assistant manager was considered vulnerable, especially by her male colleagues. However, what I discovered  was that she was the most perceptive and aware, competent and courageous of the team.It was she who safely handled the robbery incident, picking up cues even before the event occurred.Meanwhile the men had sat at their desks unaware of what was occurring.

Again, in the more recent robbery, the assistant manager, another young woman, displayed insight.She too went on the alert early on, as she observed through the floor to ceiling windows of the bank,  two men walking towards the door.She noted her concern to the female colleague stationed at the counter with her. Her colleague agreed with her assessment.As the men entered, the assistant manager pushed the panic button. And then the robbery began with at least one of the men brandishing a gun, demanding money.Another teller, who had been working behind a wall at the drive-through window, entered from the side. The gunman pointed his weapon at her as well.The three women followed the protocol in which they were trained. During the event they were calm and competent. Their traumatic response of crying, tremors, anger, etc, arose after the  robbers left with a  small amount of money and ,fortunately, with no one harmed, at least physically.

While the robbery was in progress, the manager was present and was at a desk focused on some project.Just as in the earlier incident where the men were unaware of  the robbery, so was this man  unknowing of the events that were unfolding.

Two stories do not a truth make, but there is a trend here. And that is about how men and women may meet the world differently. Where women have a diffuse awareness,an open focus, taking much in at once, men seem more focused on one point, one goal at a time.Stereotyped as this might be, it does behoove us to see value in both modes of meeting the  world. One of my father's favorite maxims was"your virtue is your vice." In other words, without balance and moderation , virtue is handicapped.

We have lived in a goal-oriented,"blinders-on"  "man's world" for eons and it has achieved much.However,lost in lopsidedness,there is a dark side to this narrow focus.The feminine principled diffuse awareness brings enhanced perception of the world around us  and allows for the inclusion of care.

Interesting to note that  the women  I interviewed, who have experienced various bank robberies, report worry and concern for the other people in the vicinity of the gunmen. They recounted that they were concerned  for the safety of  co-workers and customers during the events. This concern was integral to their decisive responses to these incidents.What might this imply? Perhaps that feminine principled diffuse awareness  allows us to see the bigger picture of connection and relationship--even in a bank.

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