Mars Venus is of the premise, that contrary to popular belief, men and women are not equal. Despite what we have been led to believe, let it be said again, men and women are not created equal. We are different, and the corporate world is now ready to embrace this reality, rather than continue to operate on the fallacy that men and women should be treated the same. Should I even broach the topic that corporate is still being run from a man’s perspective; meaning it is still weighted to men’s communication and leadership styles? Mars Venus teaches the unique gender differences, not just at first glance anatomy wise, but also physiologically from the way we have different hormones which reduce our stress levels, to our style of communicating. Recent neurological studies show how men and women’s brains differ when communicating, when under stress, and when reducing stress. Mars Venus applauds the companies that embrace gender intelligent communication. Those companies are rising to the top of the Forbes lists. Still, both men and women alike continue to comment on why it doesn’t make sense that the few women who make it to top executive positions are still reaching a glass ceiling, despite the fact women are now outranking men in obtaining post-secondary degrees and beyond. Ask any woman who has just decided to have or has just had a baby what is more important to her: raising her family or rising up the corporate ladder. It really should not be about either or. Women can have both. The climate in the corporate world is changing, and the ones that are coming out victors are the ones who acknowledge the unique gender differences, embrace the idiosyncrasies, and create harmony in their workforce. In fact, we as a society need to learn how to create this balance. Stress levels are at an all-time high. If we do not learn how to communicate more effectively with one another so that our relationships both in and out of the workplace are more balanced there is not going to be a thriving population a few generations down the road. We now understand the research behind the hormones responsible for men and women coping differently with stress, and how this actually increases stress levels in the opposite sex—both at work, and at home. The companies rising to the top are the ones which embrace gender intelligent communication. Why? People are able to communicate with each other more effectively, be more productive, and are generally happier, because they feel heard and respected. The levels of women and men at the top of corporate will equal out when this change in culture is embraced.
Earlier this year on BNET both Kimberly Weisul blogged about people still discriminating against women when they make investment and leadership decisions and Margaret Heffernan blogged about bias blinding us to being more successful by incorporating that which is unfamiliar into our decision-making process. Margaret is encouraging us to embrace, hire, and work with whomever and whatever is different from us. I’m throwing my two cents in as well to add to this discussion, as the timing is right and we are ripe for change. I am a former Marine Corps officer, who also happens to have a master degree in counseling. I have lived the experience of being in a male-dominated world. I also have the knowledge base from counseling that most problems, whether they are personal or related to work, are caused by a failure in communication due to unrealistic expectations and unexamined assumptions. With that being said, one of the major areas I work with people on now as a Mars Venus Success Coach is helping people communicate more effectively to improve both their professional and personal relationships. Articles abound with what is unfair and wrong about why women are not being slotted in top executive positions. Mars Venus Coaching is well aware there are still ceilings to break so we can build a stronger, more efficient, more balanced workforce. We’ve gotten this far operating on the premise (which is both an unrealistic expectation and unexamined assumption) that men and women are equal, deserve the same opportunities, and should be treated the same way. Women with their degrees not too long ago stepped up to the plate to take on executive positions. Many wondered why it was so difficult to be promoted or to be paid an equivalent wage. The world they were operating in was one created by men. Unfortunately, this is still the case in most industries. Most of the corporate world still operates in a system gender-biased to men’s style of communicating. Women are now and have been in the workplace since our first world war, and the phenomena being discussed centers around the shift that has occurred with more and more women being in the workforce. Countless studies now show women seek and obtain BOTH undergraduate and graduate degrees at unprecedented levels. With the slip in the economy, more women have also hung up their hats and returned to raising their kids, because the climate in corporate was not habitable for long-term residency. It is intolerable that we continue to operate from the prejudice that women should fit into this concept of “corporate” that was designed by and for men.
With more women in the workforce communicating in the style unique to their gender, corporate is no longer a man’s world. To prove this point, the companies that fiscally are succeeding and surpassing their counterparts are the ones who embrace the unique differences of the sexes into their climate. This is where Mars Venus Coaching feels the focus should be—on the solution of how we make ALL companies this way. We should focus more energy and our resources to raising awareness of how to intelligently communicate with one another so that all of our goals are met. If we are able to respect each other for what we have to offer, then the quality of life for everyone both in the workplace and at home will rise. The answer lies in acknowledging, understanding, respecting, and encouraging our different communication styles based on the proclivities of our gender. If we can figure out how to communicate intelligently, where no one person or style or way is better than the other, then relationships will become re-balanced both at work and at home. As I commented on Kimberly’s blog, leaders know that their _____ (you fill in the blank, as you are a leader right now in evoking this change) is only as successful as the quality of their relationships with their people. There will be no ceiling to break, because a new corporate world will have been created embracing the culture shift, climate change, whatever you’d like to call it where both men and women are respected equally for their uniqueness.
There is uniqueness between the sexes in the ways we communicate with each other. Our communication style lies at the heart of our expectations. Generally speaking, women want to participate in the decision-making process, and men want to delegate. For example take something as mundane as shopping for groceries. Women may want consensus in the household or with whomever the dinner guests are that they will like what she buys. She may ask her husband what he’d like for dinner the upcoming week, and his typical response may be, “just get something. You do the shopping.” He’s made the decision he will eat whatever is made, and she can decide what to get without him. Which one is right? There is no right answer, this is just a tendency men and women have when buying or selling. Similar conversations go on in the workplace as well in regards to should we invest in this prospect, market to this target audience, or sell to this buyer. What will take businesses to the next level is the recognition that men and women have unique ways of communicating, and bringing both to the table makes for more profit not just with the bottom line, but also in regards to quality of life. What needs to be happening now amongst us is a discussion on how we can lift each other up and create balance. Are you familiar with Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? I bet you have heard of this concept, but have you incorporated this language into how you deal with your family and friends? What about using gender intelligent communication with your co-workers? Dr. John Gray’s life work deals with explaining the ways men and women communicate differently so that we can have better relationships, both at work and in our personal lives. The coaches as Mars Venus Coaching are working globally with executives, businesses, and individuals to promote this climate of gender difference acceptance so that more people are able to experience success—whatever that means for them—in their lives. The quest is to re-balance people in their relationships so things like their business, which is supposed to be a vehicle to enable them to live the lifestyle of their dreams, is just that an enabler so they can have both work and play. Using Mars Venus as a language to help one another understand the opposite gender’s tendencies unlocks the door for people wherever they are on the corporate ladder or in their personal lives to use their business as a vehicle to the lifestyle they want, instead of business being their lifestyle.
The Mars Venus explanation in gender intelligent communication allows for dialogue to enter into the workforce about how our styles complement each other. You cannot find another coaching or consulting company that incorporates gender intelligent communication into all facets of their services. Mars Venus Coaching operates on this premise for success. To spread the solution for what’s needed to stabilize the shift currently underway to keep women in the workforce, and normalize equal numbers of executives at the top what needs to happen now is for companies to work from the real premise (not an unexamined assumption we’re equal or an unrealistic expectation that we’re equal) that companies are stronger, and they perform better when gender intelligent communication is embraced, encouraged, and respected. Getting back to the points generated by bnet discussions, yes, both discrimination and bias stands in the way of the most educated and informed person making investment and leadership decisions. This is due to foggy glasses. The good news is that we can clean our glasses, remove some of the foggy filtering, or take them off completely. There is room for a solution, and there is a way for everyone to gain balance and meet their goals. Our glasses are foggy, because we choose to operate with the filters gained through experience, and our own internal dialogue telling us what to think, say, and do. However, any coach or mental health professional will tell you to make the best informed decision you have to operate from reality; meaning, what’s in front of your face, so you live in the present moment and operate logically based on facts, not on bias, discrimination, judgments (also known as unexamined assumptions and unrealistic expectations). What this means is we have to divorce our petty biases and discriminatory judgments from the situation. The easiest, fastest way to do this is to communicate with one another based on our gender’s unique style of communicating. This requires active listening, and the ability to say what needs to be said in the dialect the other person understands, not your own. Active listening is a method that is taught in Mars Venus Coaching extensive training sessions. So men—it behooves you to pick up on women’s nonverbal and verbal communication when talking to women and reflect back what they are saying, and vice versa. When you are able to practice these skills at more effective assertive communication, and come from a genuine place of connecting, the sky is the limit for how far you’ll go in your professional life (personal too!).
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Success Coach