'Working Wounded': Battle of the Sexes

DEAR WOUNDED: I really struggle to understand how men think at work. Can you give me some insight so I can do a better job of working with them?

ANSWER: Whenever I think of the workplace battle of the sexes, I think of Michael Bitar. He's not a professor, consultant or corner-office sage. Nope, he's a guy who had $1,500 in damage done to his SUV by a turkey. The turkey pecked deep scratches in the bumper and paint because he thought he saw another turkey in the reflection.

This reminds me of the battle of the sexes in today's workplace. Instead of truly taking the time to understand how men and women often see the world differently, we tend to peck at our own image of what we think the opposite sex should be saying or doing. I've outlined a series of ways that men and women see the world differently to help both sides build a bridge of understanding to their better half. For more, information check out "Trends" by Peters and Barletta (DK, 2005).

Women think peer, while men think pyramid. As you read the points listed below, you'll probably feel like Mr. Peters and Ms. Barletta made each of their comparisons more complimentary to women than to men. I think it is important to look past that (and remember I'm a guy). I think we need to realize that this is not about pointing fingers but about learning from each other. And I've never been a big hierarchy kind of guy anyway.

Women think we, while men think me. I must agree, that it's only recently in my career that I started to add the word "we" to my vocabulary. I do think that men tend to call their own number more often while women are more suited to looking at what is good for the organization. As in many things, there are times for we and times for me, the challenge is using the right tool for the job.

Women want trust, men want respect. I've heard that respect is more important than trust line a million times. I'm even embarrassed to say that I've said it a time or two. But I've learned that it isn't true. Respect isn't really possible until there is a level of trust. So if you are keeping score at home, in my humble opinion this one goes to the women.

Women affiliate, men differentiate. Like we and me above, this one really is a split decision and depends on the circumstances.

Women laugh with, men laugh at. This is a real pet peeve of mine. I think that there is way too much teasing at work; and men do the lion's share. I think that humor should never be at someone else's expense.

Don't be a turkey at work. Appreciate that someone of the opposite sex is someone that you can learn from, not just someone to try to hen-peck into submission.

We'd like to hear your strategy for dealing with the opposite sex at work. I'll give an autographed copy of "Working Wounded: Advice that adds insight to injury" (Warner, 2000) to the best submission. Send your entry, name & address via: http://workingwounded.com or via e-mail: bob@workingwounded.com. Entries must be received by Wednesday (Aug. 17).

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCnews.com online ballot:
How would you describe the majority of conversations you have at work?

       A great dialogue, with real give and take, 39.8 percent
       A monologue about what I should be doing, 19.9 percent
       I don't have many conversations at work, 40.4 percent

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for dealing with fear at work comes from V.O. in California.:

"Perhaps one should include: Fear of failure. This one is important otherwise we (as workers) do not feel empowered to attack new projects or venture out of our comfort zones. But we need to feel that our bosses (or organization) support us, otherwise we close up and everyone loses."

List of the Week

Not on the same page … the deteriorating relationship between bosses and employees

      Two out of five workers can't to talk to managers about important future issues

      Employees are so disengaged, they are three times more likely to be planning to leave their jobs in the next 12 months

      Employees can't talk to their managers about key issues due to a lack of trust

Source: Career Innovation

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. His newest best seller, "GRAY MATTERS: The Workplace Survival Guide" (Wiley, 2004), is a business comic book that trades cynicism for solutions. Ask Bob a question: bob@workingwounded.com or http://graymattersbook.com.

ABCNEWS.com publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.