Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Businessby Barbara Annis, John Gray
Work With Me is the timely collaboration of two of the world’s foremost authorities on gender relations. Barbara Annis, world-renowned expert on gender issues in the workplace, and John Gray, author of the number one relationship book of all time, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, team up to resolve the most stressful and confusing/i>/i>
Work With Me is the timely collaboration of two of the world’s foremost authorities on gender relations. Barbara Annis, world-renowned expert on gender issues in the workplace, and John Gray, author of the number one relationship book of all time, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, team up to resolve the most stressful and confusing challenges facing men and women at work. Annis and Gray reveal, for the first time, survey results of over 100,000 in-depth interviews of men and women executives in over 60 Fortune 500 companies. Readers will discover the Eight Gender Blind Spots, the false assumptions and opinions men and women have of each other, and in many ways, believe of themselves. Through research, science, and stories, Annis and Gray expose the blind spots that cause our misunderstandings, miscommunications, mistrust, resentment, and frustrations at work. Readers will discover the biology and social influences that compel men and women to think and act as they do, and direct how they communicate, solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict, lead others, and deal with stress, enabling them to achieve greater success and satisfaction in their professional and personal lives. Work With Me is the definitive work-life relational guide, filled with "ah-ha!" moments and discoveries that will remove the blind spots and enable men and women to work and succeed together.
- St. Martin's Press
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Work with Me
The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business
By Barbara Annis, John Gray
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Barbara Annis and John Gray
All rights reserved.
ARE WE REALLY THE SAME?
LORENZO, AN INVESTMENT BANKER FOR OVER 20 YEARS, MANAGES a profitable branch office in Dallas, Texas. He has a great team of dedicated employees who enjoy working together. Judy, one of the two women on the team, has always felt a little uncomfortable with Lorenzo's occasional and slightly off-color jokes during team meetings as well as with his compliments on her attire, but she considers him a good boss to work for. She doesn't know how to give him feedback, though. She doesn't know exactly how to say it, nor can she predict how he'll react. "That could change the course of my career," she thinks.
Judy e-mails her human resources department in Houston, asking for guidance, and HR does its role by filing a report on Lorenzo and contacting the legal department. Legal along with HR meet with Judy, and in their effort to come to a by-the-book solution, relocate Judy to another branch — an outcome she didn't expect and Lorenzo certainly didn't want, as Judy was one of his top performers.
Judy's 15-minute drive to work is now a two-hour commute — plenty of daily drive time to reflect on what happened and why it all unraveled so quickly.
Needing to vent, she shares this story with her attorney friend. He suggests that she has a great case against Lorenzo and encourages Judy to sue the company. She takes his advice, wins the case, settles for an undisclosed amount of money, and retires.
Lorenzo is blind-sided by all of this. "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong. I didn't mean any harm." The company does the only thing it could do and fires Lorenzo. His chances for getting another job are impossible now with this sexual harassment charge on his record. His career is toast! He asks his personal lawyer if he has a case and ends up suing the company for not providing adequate training in sexual harassment. Lorenzo wins his suit and retires.
Lorenzo didn't know his words were having that kind of effect on Judy. It wasn't his intent to insult or "sexually objectify her," as was claimed in court. "I thought I was flattering her, making her feel good about herself!"
Judy knew Lorenzo never intended to harass her. She wanted to preserve the relationship and her job and not offend Lorenzo, but it just made her feel uncomfortable and she didn't know how to talk to him about it. Her request for support from HR set in motion a litigation machine that resulted in a costly settlement to the company, Lorenzo out of work, and Judy stuck in traffic.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Considering the cost, many companies have every reason to fear a sexual harassment lawsuit. Complainants today receive, on average, $250,000 if she or he wins a trial. In addition, the defendant company has to pay all attorneys' fees. Settlements themselves can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars, but verdicts against a defending company can cost millions!
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received an average of 12,000 sexual harassment complaints every year for the past ten years. Considering the pervasiveness of diversity training programs since the 1990s, you would think that number of complaints would decline. Each year, about half of the charges are dismissed with "no reasonable cause." The ones that do stick cost employers approximately $50 million annually.
Then there are the personal costs. Companies adopt policies to prevent any chance of misconduct, such as prohibiting male supervisors from having closed-door meetings with women subordinates. Men are uncomfortable traveling or even having a business lunch with a woman colleague. They don't want any behavior on their part to be misconstrued. The sad irony is that the inability to meet privately or travel with the boss or other male colleagues can limit a woman's chances for developing her career.
WHY GENDER EQUALITY IS FAILING
The story of Lorenzo and Judy is real, although the names and locations have been altered to protect the truly innocent. But it pinpoints how truly blind men and women are to each other's intentions and expectations in today's workplace. There is no doubt that inappropriate behavior exists. Yet, so much of it is unintended — the result of misinterpretation and miscommunication between men and women, who have little idea why the other gender thinks and acts as it does.
In our gender intelligence workshops and through in-depth surveys of over 100,000 men and women on gender issues in the workplace for the past 25 years, we've learned it's not that men don't want to understand; they simply don't know how to read women's thoughts and actions. The same holds true for women. They tend to misread men's intentions and actions but believe they understand what causes men to think and act as they do.
In reality, men and women are often uncertain how to act with each other and how to react to each other. Many men admit they don't understand women. Male behavior is more predictable, but not understanding or not trying to understand can lead to avoidance and not working well together. Both men and women are often hesitant to speak their minds or act in ways that feel authentic for themselves.
9 percent of men say they "understand women."
68 percent of women say they "understand men."
In our workshops, women often say:
"Men tend to make quick decisions. I'd rather we discuss the issues more."
"He can't look away from his computer when I'm talking with him."
"I like to ask questions. It doesn't mean I'm uncertain or uncommitted."
Men often say:
"I'm often at my best when I can think and work alone."
"The women on our team ask a lot of questions that often slow down progress."
"I tend to hold back on giving women critical feedback."
One major problem is that we're trying too hard to be "equal" to each other, which, over the years, has grown to mean "acting the same." Since the equality movement that began in the early 1970s, we have been conditioned to believe that men and women think and act alike — but after 40-plus years, it's clearly not working for us. We don't feel valued or appreciated for who and what we are. We have difficulty getting our point across. We may mean well, but we're often misunderstood.
We are suppressing our true natures and trying to act the same instead of acting as ourselves. We've been encouraged to compete with each other rather than to find ways that complement each other, and this is creating unnecessary stress and unhappiness in our work life and personal life.
The fact is men and women are different. We do almost everything differently. We communicate, solve problems, prioritize, make decisions, resolve conflicts, handle emotions, and deal with stress differently.
One of most insightful sessions in our workshops is when women and men break into separate groups and identify their top challenges in working with the other gender. There are seldom any challenges mentioned when they're together, but separate them and in short order the list begins. The interesting thing is, regardless of the country, the challenges that men and women have in working with each other are virtually the same. Men and women the world over share similar patterns of attitudes and behaviors, notwithstanding their upbringing, education, or culture.
This idea of gender equality is not working anywhere — not even in gender-progressive Scandinavia, home to some of the most advanced, gender-equal countries in the world. Norway, for example, was an early adopter of legislation to force companies to recruit women for the boardroom. Since the 1980s, these countries have led the way in gaining more rights for women, including the option of the most flexible work schedules of all other developed nations. Yet, Nordic countries are today below the global average in percent of women in senior management.
It's easy to proclaim that "we're all equal" and go about treating each other the same, but when the dust clears, men and women are still misunderstanding each other and being misunderstood. We're not valuing each other and we're even further away from finding the complement in each other.
WE ARE NOT THE SAME
Since the 1990s, researchers in neuroscience have made great strides in identifying gender differences in human brain anatomy, chemical processes, and functions. Brain studies of more than a million participants in over 30 countries have shown conclusively how physiological differences in the male and female brains influence language, memory, emotion, vision, hearing, and spatial orientation.
Although we are biologically different, this does not mean that one sex is superior or inferior to the other. Yet, even in the face of so much scientific evidence, there are many who firmly believe that, aside from physical appearance and reproductive capabilities, males and females are the same. They maintain that gender differences in attitudes and behaviors are purely the result of socialization in male-dominated societies, and that this oppressive domination over the generations has relegated women to specific caregiving roles. It's as if being biologically different than men can only mean being weaker or inferior. In their manner of thinking, science is being used to justify keeping women in lower-value, or "care-giving" roles.
We agree that there has been and still is oppression in the world — from the subtle to the brutal. Consider this: more girls have been killed in the last fifty years — particularly in China, India, and Pakistan — simply because they were girls than the number of men killed in all the wars of the twentieth century. We believe that a great deal of the undervaluing of women in this world exists because of the lack of "gender intelligence."
Gender intelligence is an active consciousness that views gender differences as strengths, not weaknesses. It is an understanding that both nature and nurture play a significant role in a person's life. The extent to which our differences are informed by our biology or by family, education, and culture is not a question that can easily be answered, simply because there is no general formula that can be applied to everyone equally. The balance of biology and social influence is unique to every individual and situation.
By continuing to believe that gender differences are all or even predominantly due to social influence is to deny our nature. We've been conditioned to believe that men and women are the same. We often over-expect the opposite gender to think and act the same, and we often undervalue the differences when they show up.
WE OVER-EXPECT SIMILARITIES
Of the eight gender blind spots in this book, the belief of "sameness" is the greatest obstruction to our improved vision of each other. It's the foundational assumption underlying most of the false expectations men and women have of each other and the source of nearly all of our misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Despite the fact that today women make up half of middle management in pretty much every industry, the working world they've entered has been designed — for the most part — by men for men. Men are, by and large, very comfortable in this environment and generally don't see any need for change. It's often uncomfortable for women who have little choice but to adapt to the male style of work.
Men didn't intentionally plan this as a way of keeping women out. It's just that when the corporate structure was developed generations ago, the majority of the workforce was comprised of men. As a result, men have written the basic rules of engagement in business and made them more effective and efficient over the years — from leading teams, to conducting meetings, to prioritizing issues, to making decisions. Even how and where to socialize after work — from golf outings to gentlemen's clubs — is based on men's preferences.
During our workshops, men are often asked to reflect on and share their unspoken rules, the policies and procedures they would never think about if not asked. Here's a composite of what men tend to identify as codes for their behavior. Further, the rules of engagement at the workplace are virtually the same, whether the workshops are held in Denver, Denmark, or Dubai.
"The effort of everyone working together is important, but it's the results that matter most."
"To offer a man support is to suggest that he's incapable. To let him work it out by himself makes him stronger. If he needs help, he'll ask."
"If a man is sitting quietly in meeting, don't put him on the spot by asking, 'What do you think?' If he has something to say, he'll say it on his own."
"Don't show emotion. It means you're weak. Remain calm and confident."
"Business is business. Don't make it personal or take it personally."
It's hard for men to want to improve on their rules. Why would they want to? They feel authentic and motivated in their environment, which reveals another big rule with men: "If it isn't broken, don't fix it."
Women, entering this workplace, struggle and find it hard to adjust. They would rather the workplace adjust to them so they can feel authentic and motivated:
"The journey is as important as the destination. Improving performance achieves the goal."
"To offer a woman support makes her feel included and allows her to give back."
"Women want to be asked, 'What do you think?' It invites them to share their ideas."
"A show of emotion is not a show of weakness. Emotion is a source of strength and often passion."
"Women tend to take it personally and internalize the issue: 'What could I have done better?'"
Men know the rules, they live by them every day, and they generally expect women to play by the same rules. Men aren't being intentionally exclusive or indifferent, they just don't know what they don't know.
For far too long, the "we're all the same" solution to this has been that women adopt male behavior to fit in and advance in the male hierarchy. The majority of training programs, workshops, seminars, and books have been devoted to training women to think and act like men in order to succeed. Examples of these male-behavior training activities are shared in the chapters to follow. One describes a series of assertiveness training programs designed for women executives in Silicon Valley in California in early 2000, training that brought out their aggression instead of their assertiveness.
"I SEE ONLY ONE MODEL OF LEADERSHIP HERE!"
A woman CEO candidate for a Fortune 100 company attends a very expensive four-day leadership training course offered by a prestigious university in the northeastern United States. The course has been offered to executives in business and government for over 30 years and over the years has made slight updates to the materials with new case studies and leadership traits development.
The CEO candidate and instructor are talking before the first day of classes begins and the woman says, "I've noticed that the men and women on my staff practice their leadership differently. Will we be exploring gender differences in leadership over the next four days? Almost half the attendees are women. I see only one model of leadership here. And there are more individual than group assignments."
The instructor replies, "Our focus will be on the principles of sound leadership, such as having a vision, showing integrity, taking responsibility, building trust, and being goal driven. These principles are shared by men and women alike."
She thinks to herself: "I show my integrity and build trust in different ways. And being goal driven is not my only focus. I share my leadership. These four days are not designed for that."
And she's correct. McKinsey & Company's recent survey of 9,000 leaders from around the world, measuring the frequency of use of the Nine Leadership Behaviors That Improve Organizational Performance, revealed that women and men show different though complementary leadership strengths:
The five behaviors that women apply more or slightly more than men — people development, expectations and rewards, role modeling, inspiration, and participative decision making — have become increasingly critical in attracting and retaining talent and in creating an ensemble form of leadership to succeed in a global and diverse marketplace.
Seventy percent of the CEOs of the companies surveyed in the McKinsey study admitted that the senior executives in their firms lacked those five specific traits. This stands to reason seeing as only one in five of those executives were women.
WE UNDERVALUE THE DIFFERENCES
When we present brain science research in our workshops and give examples of how and why our brain biology plays a large part in informing our thoughts and actions, it comes as a huge relief to both men and women alike. Their sense of relief is in the realization that there is no wrong in their nature.
Excerpted from Work with Me by Barbara Annis, John Gray. Copyright © 2013 Barbara Annis and John Gray. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Meet the Author
Barbara Annis is a world-renowned expert on Gender Intelligence® and inclusive leadership, advocating the value and practice of Gender Intelligence in over 60 Fortune 500 companies, ten governments, and numerous organizations across the globe.
John Gray, PhD is the leading relationship expert in the world and bestselling relationship author of all time. His book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, is ranked by USA Today as one of the top ten most influential books over the last 25 years. His 17 books have been published in 50 different languages and he is a popular keynote speaker for international organizations and Fortune 500 companies. He is the founder of Mars Venus Coaching and has personally trained over 500 coaches in 27 countries to bridge the gender gap in business through gender smart leadership, sales, and team-building trainings.
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This book contains a lot of good information and ideas, with support from a vast array of personal observations, surveys, and scientific data. It seemed that the authors had about 125 pages of data to support their ideas and needed to get the book to 250 pages. If/As you read this book you will see the same concepts and ideas are repeated again and again as you finish the last half of the book. The book is worth the time to read. Many of the ideas and concepts move beyond the work place and can help you understand the motivations of the sexes in a variety of applications.