Michael Did your wife ever question this close relationship? Did she ever get jealous?
George No. I think my ability to develop good working relationships with Lynda and now with some other women is because of a very secure and happy marriage:

What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.
Michael Is your friendship with Lynda the same as you have with other men?
George There are some differences. For example, men don't usually share their feelings with one another unless it's anger. It's easier for me to talk about feelings with a woman. It's like what you said about the difference between your mother and your father.

I can tell Lynda how much our working together has meant to me, and she can hug me and thank me for being such a special friend. You and I wouldn't do it in the same way, even though the same feelings might be there.
Michael You're right. But just out of curiosity, how did you move from this arm touching to hugging?
George Well, Lynda and I had known each other for three years, but I think we had only met face to face about five times. But we had talked on the phone a lot and of course mailed a lot of things back and forth for our report. Anyway, I was in Boston for some personal business and asked Lynda to meet me for breakfast one morning.
Michael At least when you are face-to-face, a handshake or even a hug is physically possible.
George Now in the meantime, we had gotten some excellent feedback on our joint report from the corporate people, and Lynda was considering this promotion and transfer to the Research Division in San Francisco.

So we were both excited and pleased with the work we had done and the prospects for the future. So when she met me in the hotel lobby, I just reached out and hugged her, and she hugged back. In that instance, a handshake just wouldn't have been appropriate.
Michael Sounds warm but still professional. You're really telling me that you learned as much about people from Lynda as you learned about computer systems.
George Yes. I've learned a lot about sharing:

The sage never tries to store things up.

The more he does for others,
The more he has.

The more he gives to others,
The greater his abundance.
Michael Would you say Lynda's feminine traits complemented your masculine ones?
George Well, not really. I thought so at first. But, I can't say that Lynda is the receptive feminine while I'm the active masculine. Actually, we're very similar in a lot of ways, and the communication about concepts and methodologies comes very easily.

Now it's more of a partnership of equals -- two androgynous workers approaching projects in the same way. But, I have to give her credit for allowing my feminine side to develop.
Michael I think I understand. That's all part of your mid-life transition too, isn't it?
George Oh, yes, very much so. The development of affect has been so important. Plus the renewed professional confidence and movement into newer areas in the company. It all fits together now as the result of a very gentle but true transformation.
Michael What about other people? I'm told that one of the issues in this women in management area is how other people perceive a man and a woman, say, having dinner together. When you throw in all this hugging, aren't people going to form impressions that something more is going on?
George Maybe, especially if the couple looks good together. But, I look at it this way. Some people are always going to see an affair because of where they're coming from. If soap operas are your reference points for interpreting social behavior, then right away you're handicapped. I'm quick to clear up any doubts if people ask questions about "how we met" or "how long have we been together." I just tell them the truth:

The truly great man dwells on what is real
And not what is on the surface.
On the fruit and not the flower.

I don't see any other way to handle it.
Michael Sure. If there's nothing more than what you've described; why should you be defensive?
George He who knows how to live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.

For in him rhinoceroses can find
No place to thrust their horn,
Tigers no place to use their claws.
Michael That's a nice way to put it. I can see why you like this book so much.
George Eventually, as men and women work more often in teams, the assumptions about sexual involvements won't be made. I think Lynda and I could serve as a good model for other people, maybe like yourself, who could benefit from a close professional and affective relationship.
Michael I'd like to meet her some day. She sounds like a special person.

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