Have robots disintermediated your personal relationships? What a crazy question. Of course, not! you say. Before answering, ask yourself these three questions:
In the past month, have you:
Googled dating, marriage or other personal relationship advice?
Read articles on how to buy happiness?
Asked Siri – the IPhone’s personal assistance – to find business contacts for you?
Siri can now have two-way conversations. Robots are now helping us invest online, but can they replace your friends? Unwittingly, you may already have replaced friends, colleagues, and mentors with technology. For women who are less likely to ask for help from others, this is an unhealthy trend.
Women are cutting themselves off from human assistance. In personal relationships, this means not getting the real support – and hugs – we need. In work relationships, we are missing important networking and business opportunities. Did you know that an in-person meeting creates six times more contacts and positive business outcomes than a phone call?
Why is it so difficult for women to ask for help?
Asking people for help will become easier when you understand why you are afraid to ask for a helping hand, guidance, or a few words of advice. Do you recognize any of these women?
The Patriarchal Slave
Women are still held back by patriarchal restraints. Not long ago, a woman was expected to be married, stay at home, and not ask about the family finances. As a consequence, women who have broken free of this mould feel as if they must be completely independent. They must know how to fix the plumbing, juggle the after school activities of the children, and manage the finances.
If the retirement savings account loses money one month, you are more likely to spend an evening online reading up on value versus growth funds. Why not ask your school chum who is now an investment manager out for lunch to discuss your investment strategy? As it turns out, he was looking for some marketing consulting advice from you – now you are part of a win-win relationship.
The Independent Women
Closely related to male-female stereotypes is the concept of the independent women as infallible. Independence and autonomy are valued as the ultimate achievements of the modern woman. The liberated woman has created a self-concept in which asking for aid is considered a weakness. We are always stronger when we are in mutually supportive relationships. When you experience a sickness, job loss, or other challenge, there is no valour in being alone and unable to cope – psychologically or financially. In business, smart women ask for help.
The Brave Soldier
Even the brave solider needs advice, empathy, and a hug in difficult times. Only a good friend can deliver the inside joke that can make you laugh when you are at your lowest. Ask Siri to tell you a joke: I don’t think you’d understand a joke in my language. They’re not funny, anyway. Siri delivers a very cold response to someone who has a loved one in the hospital or has just lost a job due to the economy. Social connections trigger our social emotional center in our brain and make us feel better.
The Super Mummy
Even car companies promote this unrealistic mommy. She has a SUV to drive all the children in the neighbourhood to soccer games, her business associates to meetings, herself to yoga classes, and signs and refreshments to the charity run. There is nothing super mummy cannot do. There is never a Robin to her Batman. She can do everything by herself.
Why You Should Ask for Help
When you ask for aid, you:
- Confront your problems and fears to express and explain yourself. We often keep to ourselves to avoid having to open up and face our fears and anxieties.
- Develop socially and emotionally. Just like our children whom we teach how to play with others, adults need to continue to actively develop social emotional learning.
- Receive not only help but also empathy and love; show gratitude towards those who help you; can reciprocate and help those who are helping you.
- Let go of unrealistic stereotypes of the super, independent and infallible woman.
People who are social and express gratitude towards others experience less depression and anxiety and more optimism. They develop a grateful brain. The ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter dopamine also increases.
Women are natural nurturers who have a need to take care of others. To be a good nurturer, you also need to let others nurture you.
She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen).
Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).
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