25 Jan 2019
We talk a lot about the benefits of networking in business terms and indeed this is a key focus of our WiBF events. In providing opportunities to enable business relationships and upskill on topics relevant to the sector, WiBF aims to have a positive impact on women being promoted into leadership roles.
In truth though, it’s the friendships I’ve formed throughout my career that have given me the greatest edge. The people I’ve met through the professional networks I’m part of, alumni of my business school, colleagues and even clients: these are some of the people who know me best. Together, we’ve shared our ambitions, successes and – importantly – even the failures. And I attribute much of my success and happiness to the friendship they’ve afforded me.
If you feel similarly, it may interest you to know there are actually physiological advantages to developing and maintaining friendships as a success factor in your career. According to research by Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor published in The Psychological Review, men and women react differently to stress due to the different proportions of hormones that are released into the bloodstream in the stress response process.
For both men and women, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released together, which raise a person’s blood pressure and circulate the blood sugar level. Then oxytocin comes into play, which counters the production of cortisol and epinephrine and produces a feeling of calm, reduces fear and counters some of the negative effects of stress.
Men release much smaller amounts of oxytocin than women, leaving them to feel more acutely the effects of the flight-or-fight response and as a result, they tend to respond to stress by escaping from the situation, fighting back or bottling up their emotions.
This research contends that women, on the other hand, are genetically hard-wired for friendship in large part due to the oxytocin released into their bloodstream, combined with the female reproductive hormones. When life becomes challenging, women seek out friendships with other women as a means of regulating stress levels. A common female stress response is to “tend and befriend.” That is, when women become stressed, their inclination is to nurture those around them and reach out to others.
If you’ve moved to a new city, or a new role, or a just looking to achieve new things in 2019, we’re here to support you. WiBF holds events dedicated to facilitating networking and educational opportunities all year round. We would love to see you there. Yes, you’ll learn new things and take away new skills. But more importantly, you’ll have the chance to make like-minded friends along the way. The kind of friends prepared to take the bus with you.
Jen Dalitz is CEO of WiBF and is working to activate the WiBF vision to grow the talent pipeline of professional women in the industry by engaging with members and key decision makers.
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