In a previous blog I wrote about Monique. How she came to the decision to compose a diverse team.
Monique noticed that she had made a good decision. As she expected, the different traits and talents of the people she chose added value to the team. She was content. It has become a good cooperating team. The desired results were being achieved and from time to time they had a good laugh. The project was running smoothly.
Monique did however worry about Diana, one of the women in the team. Diana had her opinions about the men. She was very clear on this and expressed these opinions verbally as well as non-verbally.
- She found that the men often took action too soon.
- She called them childish because they were busy outdoing each other.
- She did not feel as if she was taken seriously when she said ‘no’.
- She found them lazy because it seemed as if they continuously delegated their tasks onto other people.
Monique saw it happen. First she did not want to believe it but indeed: men and women differ from each other in behavior and in communication. She understood that this could occasionally not only lead to laughter, but also to misinterpretations, confusion, and annoyance.
But she also noticed that there were similarities. Each member of the team was incredibly driven. Motivated to become a successful individual who is part of a successful team. So she decided to make use of the things they had in common.
To be able to share this insight with Diana, she gave her the assignment to describe the gender differences within the team, and to analyze the advantages and the disadvantages.
After some resistance, Diana decided to give it a try.
Because she had been so focused on the differences, it was easy for her to draw up this list. She experienced more difficulties when examining the advantages of these differences. However by thinking critically, being an observer, and talking to her colleagues, she discovered the following advantages:
- By letting men and women work together, the men were prevented from taking action too soon while the women were stimulated to take action.
- The fact that the men proudly acknowledged and shared their achievements among the team, gave the women the opportunity to do the same.
- While women consider a ‘no’ to be a clear ‘no’, Diana realized that men often consider it to be something that can be changed into a ‘yes’. She now perceives the negotiation that follows after saying ‘no’ to be an opportunity for woman to continue the conversation and get what she aimed for anyway. She also knows that she has to be very clear when refusing something.
- The annoyance that the women always seems to be working and the men apparently do nothing, also disappeared. The men inspired the women to perform their tasks more efficiently. At the same time, the women motivated the men to complete the tasks that were assigned to them.
Men and women in the workplace respond differently. She saw that the unwritten rules were just there. The different reactions are not personally focused. And do not have to be brushed away but may be there. She concluded that men can learn from women, and vice versa. That the differences are the cause of the team’s success.
So this is not a plea for change. But a plea for creating mutual understanding and awareness. So that you can anticipate this and thus achieve better results. Whether they are business or personal.
Comment of the author: I know that some women consider this to be manipulation. But this is not the case. And by the way, if it makes our lives easier then what would be the issue?
Try to look at it as a chess game. What will be your next move?
– Karen van Hout