DiversityWorking ~ Career Channel News


Men have Caves and Women have Covens

Once there was a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Stressful. Husband Stressful is a major player in a large multinational corporation, and Wife Stressful is a top executive in the same corporation. From Monday to Saturday, husband and wife can be seen lugging around their briefcases and laptops, and working from nine to five in their beautifully furnished and strategically located offices.

Oftentimes they bring their work at home, and for two hours or more silence would reign between them. Although both were part of the same project management team, Husband Stressful chose to work in the study while Wife Stressful was busy doing her own thing in the bedroom. When they were finished, they stop and turn to each other to reboot and stay grounded with their relationship.

So what’s the point of the story? Well if you noticed both went their separate ways when faced with continuing their work at home. Mister Stressful were more comfortable holed up in his study, while his wife retreated to their bedroom. What you haven’t seen was what they were doing while in their respective workplaces.

The husband, in whom we dump all generalizations of behavior attributed to the male of the species, acted the way psychologists and communications specialists have been telling us for years. He went off alone to think and find solutions for the current project he and his wife were working on. When he was running out of ideas he called up his team mate and buddy, Steve. They talked about sports, women, and the latest gadget they’re planning to buy.

Meanwhile, while the male was gone, the wife, in whose shoulders fall the attribution of general female behavior, left her man alone in the study and went to the master’s bedroom to find a support group for what she was going through. She called up her good friend and esteemed colleague, Linda, who also happens to be part of the same team. They held a conference of sorts through the internet, an event so common these days, and talked about the project, their husbands, the kids, and what they’re going to do that weekend. Besides those topics, they were also openly sharing their feelings regarding their work, their life, and their plans for the future.

What Mr. and Mrs. Stressful were doing was all but natural. Men and women have different ways of coping with stress at work. Ignorance of gender differences and miscommunication between genders can cause friction in the workplace. Understanding these differences is the first step in attaining harmonious work relations with the opposite sex. The following are the compiled discussion points on stress and how each gender copes with it.

Men have less tolerance for emotional distress than women. Listening to a detailed report on what’s wrong gets a man frustrated and thinking it’s a grave misuse of one’s time. For a guy, taking action relaxes him. He’s thinking he is better off doing something about fixing the problem instead of just talking about it.
I’ve seen this stress-reduction technique of males all the time at work. The male employees in our office tend to play computer games and chat in between programming duties more often than the females.

It was Plato who pointed out this stress-coping behavior among men. He observed that shifting gears to use another part of the brain will put the overworked part to rest and rejuvenate. So by doing something fun and entertaining, a man can temporarily forget the stress he’s experiencing.

Stress often increases when men and women come together to discuss a problem. The men often feel impatient and think something should be done to solve the problem instead of just talking about which solution the group should take. As a result they keep interrupting the women to offer suggestions, which in turn would irritate the women, and keeping the gender groups at odds with each other at work.

Paradoxically in group meetings women tend to talk less and letting others have their fair share of talk time. By talking less, women feel they are being polite, but from the male perspective she’d appear she has nothing much to say or contribute to the discussion.

When men need space, it doesn’t mean they need to be assured or supported in any way. Other men understood the “dragon hiding in the cave” thing naturally, but for women this retreat is misinterpreted (as usual) as a Go signal for group hugs. (Although group hugs are nice for both men and women.) Let the men work it out on their own, girls.

Many would say “teamwork is the key.” But teamwork has a different meaning for each gender. For women, teamwork means sharing responsibilities, duties, and tasks. When given a solitary job, women feel the need to talk about it and find assistance in getting a workable solution. Men, however, interpret this as a sign of weakness and not as a creative strategy in problem solving while minimizing stress. Men will likely become more productive when they are given a working arena where they can be autonomous in some way. They prefer being in charge and having specific responsibilities, and being given accountability for creating end results.

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