Paul and I were having one of our stimulating conversations which I really enjoy when he, unexpectedly, asked me, “Do you regard yourself as a strong woman?”
Without the slightest hesitation I firmly replied, “Absolutely!” He looked sceptical and commented, “Actually, I don’t think so.”
In years gone by I would immediately have felt defensive and challenged him, “What do you mean! Are you suggesting I’m weak?!”
But I didn’t. Instead I remembered another conversation with a woman friend many years ago.
I don’t remember the subject of the conversation. What I do remember is exclaiming, “I love power!” She looked dismayed. To her, the word ‘power’ meant patriarchal, oppressive, authority, controlling – power over somebody.
To me, it meant having the power to make a difference – the power to support and change things for the better.
So, when Paul suggested I was not a strong woman I thought I better check.
“What do you mean when you say you don’t think I’m a strong woman?”, I asked.
It turned out, he understood the word to mean aggressive, bullying, putting down, something he had experienced and which, to him, meant ‘strong’.
No wonder he firmly believed I was not a strong woman!
But, for me, being strong meant something entirely different. It meant being a survivor, resilient, courageous, persistent, determined.
Far too often, when we are in conversation with someone, especially with someone who really matters to us, when they use one of those words everybody’s familiar with it’s easy to assume we know what they mean.
Normally, it doesn’t really matter but, sometimes, a misunderstanding over the meaning of a word could lead to a fight.
I might easily have felt put down when, in fact, Paul’s intention when he said it was exactly the opposite.
With love and gratitude
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You will walk away with at least 3 new ideas to help you move forwards.