Every organization has its dominant personalities. Some people simply have a need to control, whether it's the direction of conversations, projects, or entire organizations. Often, these are people with well-above-average skills and intelligence, so they have a fair amount to contribute that is valuable. Their minds work like lasers, cutting through vast amounts of material in a single swipe. While others may be stuck cogitating in a cul de sac of minutia, bright dominants can be the ones who create new paths forward.
It can be frustrating to be around co-workers on the extreme side of dominance. They tend to control their image at all costs and continually offer up whatever they've accomplished for display. They also tend to take up a great deal of emotional space, leaving others with precious little. Having worked with plenty of extreme dominants, I'm also familiar with the feeling of loss: loss of voice, loss of confidence, loss of self. It's as if big chunks fall away - sort of like an iceberg, sheering off its edges as the heat rises.
Of course, we have choices as to how we respond to dysfunction. My choice to feel bad about myself could be countered with another choice: I could recognize the person's over-the-top behavior for what it is and refuse to go to give myself over to self-pity and self-doubt.
Over-the-top dominants can be male or female. Yet, whether by nature, nurture, or both, women tend to be the more deferring and conciliatory gender. And as good as that sounds, a pattern of repeat disappearance in life - silencing one's voice, burying one's gifts, and obliterating one's opinions in order to avoid conflict - robs ourselves and others of what God crafted in us: a miraculous and unique self. Is this not at least part of the message of Psalm 139:13-16?
You made my whole being:
You formed me in my mother's body.
I praise you because you made me
In an amazing and wonderful way.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know this very well.
You saw my bones being formed
As I took shape in my mother's body.
When I was put together there,
You saw my body as it was formed.
All the days planned for me
Were written in your book
Before I was one day old. (NCV)
It is not easy to for any of God's children to live out God's unique calling; to say yes to God's sovereign crafting. Especially if we are dealing with dominant personalities who, for whatever reason, believe God created them as the model for all others - i.e., they are the ultimate expressions of God's creativity.
But, this holy task of saying yes to how God designed us is even more difficult if you happen to be female. The Psalmist may say that we have been put together in an amazing and wonderful way, but women are used to seeing themselves as never enough: not intelligent enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, tough enough, assertive enough, decisive enough, strategic enough?well, you fill in the blank.
How do you see yourself when you are in the presence of the ?ber-dominant? How do you see yourself as a woman as compared to the men in your life? If we say to ourselves that we are not enough, then what does this Psalm mean? When we're tempted to disappear, hide, or to denigrate our gifts, can we make another choice? Can we see ourselves and others as amazing and wonderful, and do so without guilt?