Business of Men

Myths about working with women

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At the risk of sounding like I am whining, I am tired of being called confrontational. When that word is thrown around it has a connotation that a person is intentionally antagonistic and makes unfair comments for the sake of a reaction. That is not what I do.

What I am is direct, and I work in a way that you always know where you stand. This doesn’t work for everyone but it doesn’t need to. As a woman with extensive management experience in both private and public sectors, I am regularly seeing threads of commentary that propagate a particular myth about working with women.

For many years I have witnessed women in business being stereotyped by the way they react to situations. People often label me as a ‘Type A’ personality, which makes me someone that is not for everyone. I also happen to be a woman. Am I hysterical when I feel someone is rude to me at work? No. Do I feel the need to off-load about my man troubles to the lady I barely know sitting next to me? No. Does this make me better than any other women I may work with? Not even slightly.

The biggest myth about women in business is that there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and it doesn’t just come from men. In my experience, if one woman does not agree with your reaction to a situation that resonates with her, she labels you. To be completely honest, I have done it too. When I realised I did that, I wondered why.

Often, the belief is if they aren’t like us or they don’t deal with things like us, it means that I may feel that they bring less value to the company than I do. When I have looked at it that way, I realized that I was both the perpetrator and the victim of this way of thinking. For example, when I hear someone at work talk excessively about their private romantic failures I think ‘how unprofessional’.

Yet, I have no issue with discussing at length how fabulous a theatre production I may have recently attended was. How boring for so many people to hear, and how polite of them to humor me.

The myth is that we all must react the same, contribute the same and value identical things. As someone who does not have children, for example, I feel judged when someone talks about their Saturday at their child’s football match in comparison to my Saturday that likely consisted of coffee, the arts and friends. The myth is that we are all kidding ourselves. This has nothing to do with men nor barriers in the work place – instead, it has everything to do with the value we place on ourselves and those who contribute differently.

The most important way to bust this myth is to understand social nuances and have empathy towards those who react differently. I become visibly uncomfortable when someone cries at work. I see it as inappropriate and I’m sure my reaction makes the crier feel terrible. This does not make me a cold person, nor does it mean the crier is emotionally unstable.

The idea of this is not to enforce my way of reacting on to others, but to emphasise the importance of learning to encompass how we deal with a situation in a way that is both edifying for a person, and productive for business. I don’t want to only work with women, nor do I only want to work with men – I want to work with people that work well with me full stop.

The myth that women are emotional, erratic and incapable of making good decisions is slowly becoming eradicated with women increasingly taking on senior leadership roles and becoming top-performing CEOs. It is a ridiculous bias to suggest we are all the same, that if you have worked for one woman in leadership you have worked for us all.

It is about finding the pieces that fit, the leaders that inspire you, and the people of your ilk whom you can be most productive with – regardless of gender.

 

About Alexandra Tselios

Alexandra Tselios is a business consultant and publisher of The Big Smoke, Australia’s leading opinion site. Alexandra has a diverse background in corporate, public and creative fields and is an expert business consultant.

    1 Comment

    1. Joey.Richards@me.com'

      Jo

      October 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      I LOVE THIS: “Am I hysterical when I feel someone is rude to me at work? No. Do I feel the need to off-load about my man troubles to the lady I barely know sitting next to me? No. Does this make me better than any other women I may work with? Not even slightly.”

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