Understanding the opposite sex in the office

Dr John Gray hopes to fix the communication breakdown between men and women in the office. Photo / Thinkstock
Dr John Gray hopes to fix the communication breakdown between men and women in the office. Photo / Thinkstock

Women: do you feel like your male colleagues don't listen to you? Men: do you feel like you're walking on eggshells with women in your office?

Well, you might not be imagining it.

One of the world's most successful self-help authors Dr John Gray argues in his new book Work With Me that there's more to these hunches than just aggrieved stereotyping.

US-based Gray, author of best selling relationship tome Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, says men and women have "blind spots" when it comes to working together.

"Men unknowingly give messages that do not feel supportive to women," says the father of three daughters on the phone from California.

"We say and do things that make women feel they're not being valued or appreciated."

But men are not the only ones to blame, he says.

"Women are also blind.

"Our research shows that most women feel they understand men, but at the same time they're constantly taking things personally that men don't mean."

Work With Me: The Eight Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business is the result of more than 100,000 interviews with employees of 60 big companies.

Gray, and his co-author Barbara Annis, discovered 92 per cent of men said they appreciated their female colleagues, while 48 per cent of women felt they weren't being appreciated and 82 per cent said they felt some form of exclusion.

This lack of understanding between "Martians" and "Venusians" has a serious side - women are giving up their careers and companies are losing talented employees.

"When women leave they often say it's the work, life balance.

"But when we interviewed them they said they don't feel valued, included or appreciated.

"You ask the men and they say 'of course we recognise their contribution, we don't want them to leave'."

Both sexes need to improve their "gender intelligence" to solve these problems.

"Simply having women in the workplace and just paying them the same amount as men does not make it a better place for women.

"We need equality, but we also need to have an intelligence that appreciates what women bring to the table."

Gray says his book and seminars will help people learn how to put themselves in the shoes of the other gender, how to listen and how to get messages across more effectively.

"Women need to feel safe to communicate and men need to learn to listen."

Meanwhile, Gray says he's thrilled that Reese Witherspoon has been chosen to star in the film version of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, due for release in 2014.

Dr John Gray will host business and relationship seminars in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth from June 24. More: marsvenuslive.com.au.


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