One of the biggest challenges we face is that men and women try to be the same when in reality they are very different. This is a problem both at home and at work.
A few years back I had the pleasure of sitting down with John Gray, author of the famous relationship advice book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. John has unmatched insights into gender and communication and I want to share the insights I took away from him.
To achieve workplace equality, you have to recognize differences
Men and women are different and too often that is ignored. It creates “gender blindness” where women are acting like men to seem equal in the workplace and to get respect. The outcome of that, though, is that women’s stress levels skyrocket. Despite seeming “equal” women feel unappreciated because they feel that men do not understand where they are coming from.
At work, when there’s “equality,” or this “gender blindness,” there’s a lack of understanding of where women are coming from, so they feel unappreciated, excluded and like men are walking on eggshells around them. We underplay those differences and that’s not necessary. It’s okay for a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman in the workplace. There are different strengths that men and women bring to the table.
Intention is constantly misinterpreted
Harvard did a study on intention.
“If you stepped on my foot, I’d think, ‘No big deal.’ But if I thought you did it intentionally, my stress level would shoot way up. It’s ten times worse.”
Men unknowingly step on women’s feet in the workplace, and women start to build up resentment and to feel underappreciated. Their stress levels increase, but men don’t notice this because they have blind spots- 8 “blind spots” as I put them.
Half of women feel they are not feeling appreciated in the workplace. Men have to learn to listen a little longer. To feel appreciated, women want you to hear them, see them and know what they’re going to. Then she feels like she is not invisible or left out. Men just want to be rewarded for the results.
Workplace structure isn’t broken
The traditional workplace was designed by men and for men. And, it is actually suitable for men! This is where feminists have problems. They keep thinking that men designed the workplace against women intentionally and then feel as if they’re toes are being stepped on and then men don’t understand why.
While the traditional workplace environment has seen minor changes, it’s important to recognize that for men and women to act in a way that is respectful and appreciative to both genders they have to learn and communicate.
We have to bridge the gender gap
The feminist movement was about women trying to show, “Let’s show men that we can be better men.” While many women have done that, their stress levels are proven to be twice as high. They’re even four times higher at home.
We have to create a blend. We have to learn how to appreciate the value women bring, and women have to appreciate why men do what they do. When you get both of those things in balance, productivity increases and stress levels go down.