I recently read this article and study on women in the workplace and their varied communications styles. It got me thinking about who makes women angry on the job and how they deal with it. It lead me to do a little informal polling...
While chatting with a group of very successful professional women I know, I confidentially asked them about the most frustrating male co-workers they have to deal with. (Don't worry, I asked them about frustrating female co-workers too. I'll share those results in a separate post.) Turns out, there are four types of guys in the office today that seem to bother working women the most.
1) He's not nice, he's just weak and let's everyone walk all over him. Usually, he's a manager who is desperate to have everyone like him. He avoids difficult conversations and lets things slide to avoid confrontation. Staff take advantage of his kindness to the extreme. Nobody respects him. Meanwhile, he thinks everyone adores him.
2) His bro-culture, boy's club personality is beyond annoying. If he isn't talking about sports, he's talking about his epic days partying with they guys. He walks around with a smirky smile on his face that says, "I'm charming, a great dresser, and I know everybody thinks I'm hot."
3) He's defensive, argumentative, a total jerk, and clearly afraid of powerful women. You can literally see this guy's personality change and hostility increase as a woman enters the room. He's just waiting for something to be said so he can pounce and challenge it. His goal in life is to make sure that nobody is seen as better than him. Especially, a female co-worker.
4) He acts like a doting dad who sees a female co-worker as his, "little lady." Typically older, these are men who treat women in the office like their daughters. Patronizing comments, empty compliments, and their repeated shock and surprise when a woman does something great for the company.
The male co-workers as described above do sound pretty frustrating, which leads to the question...
What do these highly successful women do about it?
The women I spoke to all seemed to have the same approach. They basically said: "Letting male co-workers get to me doesn't help my career. I'm the only one who suffers. Yes, I find them frustrating, but as long as they aren't breaking any rules (i.e. sexual harassment, discrimination, etc.), it doesn't make sense to call them out."
NOTE: These women also acknowledged it's a two-way street.
Meaning, they were sure some male co-workers found them frustrating too. Thus, instead of challenging these men and speaking up about their frustrations with them, the women said they approach each situation like a business transaction. If the male co-worker could be of use in helping them achieve their career goals, then they look past their frustrations and work to develop a professional relationship with the male co-worker in order to use that relationship to their advantage. AND, if they realize the male co-worker is of no current value to them in their career, they still try to keep the professional relationship in tact. Why? They all agreed it's a small world and you shouldn't burn professional bridges. In short, you just never know who you may need to tap for help someday.
Seems like logical career advice for both genders.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.