In my debut article here at Leaderswest, I wrote a post entitled “How to do Business with a Woman (If you are a guy)”. It got quite a response. Ted Rubin was kind enough to comment and added, “How about a follow-up… How to Do Business with a Guy (If You Are a Woman). That I really want to read ”. Well, here you go, Ted.
Research has demonstrated that women have a more inclusive, collaborative work style. They tend to try and achieve consensus, employ a fair and equitable process and avoid conflict.
Men focus more on the results and the shortest, most direct path to the goal. Their cooperative relationships are more like sports teams, with everyone having a designated role. The team may take precedence over the individual.
As such, men and women have a different way of acting, reacting and communicating. In my 30-or-so-year career, here follow the major lessons I’ve learned about how to do business with a guy, if you are a woman.
Cut to the chase. Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point. Spit it out. Men don’t want stories. They want “just the facts, ma’am”. When talking to men, leave out the details and stick to the broad strokes. Provide basic context, give the minimal background info and skip the “colour”. Offer them the Cole’s Notes version, they will ask any necessary questions to find out the additional information that they need/want to know.
Along the same lines, minimize the explanations about why you didn’t or can’t do something. The background explanation is probably not interesting or pertinent and may end up sounding like an excuse. Instead, outline how you intend to compensate for or correct the situation. Men are much less interested in the why, and much more concerned about the what.
Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, it might be necessary to cultivate a thicker skin. Guys have an enviable ability to shrug off criticism, move past negative comments, or ignore unwanted input. To women, even casual feedback is often perceived in the worst possible light, a direct and laser-sharp pinpointing of their shortcomings and failings. They will think about it, turn it over and dwell on it with much more consideration than any with which it was given. While women will consider each and every word and all of their possible meanings, men will be thinking of the message – the information they wanted to impart.
You might want to ditch the chip on your shoulder. Lesson number 1: Life is not fair; Lesson number 2 – See lesson number 1). Not all circumstances or situations can be absolutely equitable or fair. (I’ve had a particularly hard time with this one). Guys “get” each other. Guys smoke cigars. Guys play golf and squash. Even if you play golf or squash, you can’t get into the men’s locker room – believe me I’ve tried (totally inadvertently, I swear!)! There will always be times when you are the odd man out, basically because you are not a man.
Whatever you do, don’t cry. I know this is a tough one, because many women manifest anger as tears. But men don’t understand this. In a professional setting, men perceive tears as a purely emotional reaction – sad or unhappy. Crying makes them extremely uncomfortable and they don’t know what to do. The reason they may interpret crying as weakness or a sign that you can’t cope is because generally, that is what they have been taught.
Unfortunately this reflects poorly on you. If you think you’re losing it, excuse yourself or reschedule for a time when you feel able to be less emotional or better able to act with stoicism. It’s preferable to seem abrupt or rude than give way to tears.
There is more than one way to skin a cat. Rules are made to be broken. Guys focus on the shortest way between two points. If there is a shorter, quicker, easier way to do something, they will find it. Women often have a hard time getting on board with this, as they are more rules and process oriented, they may not automatically look for an alternate to the specified method. Women may feel they are cheating. The key is to take the time to examine the opportunities, and agree if/how they can be leveraged.
Try to find a sense of humour. Perhaps guys have a base sense of humour, but maybe it’s only because simple things are just plain funny. If you don’t find something humourous, kindly do not look down your nose disapprovingly. You don’t have to like it, but please be tolerant and accept it.
If you’re going to wear something tight or revealing, men are going to look. Their wife/partner might get angry, their Mom might be ashamed of them and their sister disgusted, but if it’s on display, it’s fair game. Consider this when you’re choosing your wardrobe and act accordingly. If you choose to ignore the warning, then you just have to deal with it. I’m not saying that ogling or leering is appropriate or acceptable, but if wares are on display in public, looking is.
Learn how to shake hands. Make contact with a firm grasp, so your hand has some presence and it doesn’t feel that he is handling a dead fish, but don’t overcompensate by squeezing. Think about grasping the handle of a door to open it. Use a similar grip.
The world is made of many shades of grey. Grey is a mixture of black and white. See how much we have in common?
So guys, how did I do? What did I miss? I’m counting on you to let me know.