One of my clients worked in partnership with a male colleague. She felt like she was getting stepped over by him every time a high-profile task came their way. To her, he always grabbed the tasks as soon as they came up and she never had a chance to volunteer herself. “He wants to be in the limelight while I’m stuck in the background doing research and taking notes!” When men act this way, we assume it means men think we can’t handle the spotlight as well as them.
I asked my client to bring in her good buddy WITAGR (pronounced Whittager), or What If There’s A Good Reason, to check his behavior with him and understand his intentions.
At their next meeting, she told him, “I have the assumption that you think I can’t do higher profile tasks directly with the client.” What a surprise she got. He had never doubted that she could do these things. It just never occurred to him that he was grabbing the riskier, high-profile work for himself and shutting her out.
How could he not see what he was doing? The answer is that he was just acting on instinct. Men’s working style is action-oriented and results-driven. While women get a sense of contributing from other things like building relationships, men’s sense of achievement comes from getting results.
That’s what makes men feel that they’re making their best contribution. And it’s a huge blind spot for women, who think there’s more behind men’s actions than men are telling them.
How Men Really Feel
In private, men reveal their true feelings about women’s capabilities. The truth is that many men suspect their women colleagues do the job better than they can. Men say, “Women are more detail-oriented and more organized. They do their homework and come to meetings better prepared.”
We have a huge blind spot when we assume men think we are incapable. When men act according to their action-oriented working style, they are not trying to imply that we are incompetent. They are just doing what comes naturally to them. We have to understand men’s style and not let it get to us. We have to stand up for ourselves, and grab some of the work we want instead of waiting for it to be offered to us.
How do you break through your assumptions?
They key is active listening. Active listening means you “check” your assumptions before you jump to conclusions about the behavior of the other sex. Always make sure you understand the real reasons the other gender is acting a certain way before you take any actions. As you have seen, there’s a good chance you have a blind spot. Acting on a blind spot can lead to difficult misunderstandings.
Bottom line – We can thrive in a masculine environment without changing who we are. If you would like more tips on how to do just that, then download my free Magnetic Influence Litmus Test where I share 4 simple questions you can ask yourself to predict your ability to influence, and how to gain that influence.