This past week I watched as Ellen DeGeneres received the Mark Twain award at the Kennedy Center in Washington. She was expectedly humorous in her acceptance speech. One thing that stood out for me was her remark describing the basis for her brand of humor. She said that she zeroes in on the irony of the human condition without regard to gender.
Our culture has worked hard to erase gender differences where it matters, especially in the workplace. Thanks to awareness of past stereotypes and power struggles, many men and women have found new life working together in areas that were heretofore solely the domain of either men or women.
Yet personal abilities and gender similarities aside, there remain important differences in the ways people approach life and work that are often overlooked. Some of these differences are conditioned by gender. Their priorities concerning reaching similar goals may be quite different, as are the perspectives they bring with them.
Some of these differences can be attributed to cultural conditioning and family nurturing. I wonder, however, how much they actually are rooted in the different ways men and women are emotionally and psychologically “wired.” Conversation in the workplace about the values and perspectives that individuals hold might be an opportunity to mine the richness of gender differences. Knowing better what makes us operate the way we do can contribute ultimately to greater productivity and collaboration.
How many of us know the deeply-held values of those with whom we work? Values reveal for what we are willing to lay down our lives. Such values are deeply held and don’t differ dramatically between the genders. The desire for security, validation, relationships, comfort, nourishment, shelter, fairness, and love are universal.
Along with the values we bring to the workplace, we also possess certain perspectives from which we view the world and communicate priorities based on our values. These perspectives are unique to each individual; they are highly influenced by our life-experiences. They are also prone to gender conditioning and the ways in which we are wired as men and women.
Our “wiring” has a lot to do also with the dominant energy through which we project our personalities into the world. The wonderful differences between men and women bring richness to all experiences, included those at work. Our masculine or feminine energy (all of us possess both to one degree or another) may dominate at different times and in varying circumstances. This energy directly affects the lens through which we view whatever is before us, and so the decisions we make based on this experience.
Share with our readers how you view gender differences in the workplace. Do you prefer working with masculine or feminine energy, and why? What are your deeply held values and how do they get communicated in the workplace? With what perspective do you operate? How might you get a conversation going about gender perspectives in order to enhance your collaboration?
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