I had a rare glimpse into the male brain. I participated in an exercise where about 10 men and 10 women split up into two groups to list what bugs them most about the opposite sex in the workplace. The women’s answers were fairly typical—interrupting, objectifying, excluding and dominating.
Here were the men’s (in no particular order).
- Women get emotional/defensive.
- Women over-complicate everything.
- Men hate catfights.
- Women wait to be invited: they should jump in!
- Women should not assume that we are listening.
- Women can be emotionally draining.
- Men have to be careful with what they say around women.
- Women pontificate and repeat the same points over and over.
- Women will bring up historical stuff from the past into current arguments.
- Women personalize everything. With men, it’s just business.
Not that any of this is new to us but what I found most interesting was the underlying fears that the men spoke about, from dealing with our hormonal fluctuations all the way to our crying in the workplace. They really hate it when we cry.
I read once that the way a person ‘fights’ is often the same way their parents did. So for example, think about your own patterns. Do you slam a door, walk out, fume for days, scream and then it’s over—or do you shut completely down? Everyone has their coping mechanisms but it might be interesting to think about how you resolve conflict in the workplace. These behaviors can be changed. After all, they’re just habits. Experts say if you want to change a habit, do it for 14 straight days and then it ‘sticks’. Maybe it’s time to stop fighting like your mother did and adopt some new techniques!!
For more on the topic of ‘Gender Intelligence’, check out a great book I just bought called Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business by Barbara Annis and John Gray. Yes, that’s the same John Gray that wrote Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus over 20 years ago!