Workers are from Earth

November 18, 2003

Female fans of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus author John Gray were given pause for thought during his recent trip to Australia.The relationship “expert” told women to be “more gracious” in the workplace, “less emotional” and “learn to speak (the) male language'”.

Gray, who has made a fortune by promoting the differences between the sexes,was in Australia to launch his new workplace coaching franchise.

He told Susie O’Brien of the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne that “the Mars-Venus approach says that what men value is not the same as what women value – there are two completely different styles.”

“Once you understand this, you can facilitate communication, trust and positive motivation among staff,” he said.

Oh and women should learn to take it on the chin if someone else takes credit for her work.

“If a woman’s idea is stolen at a meeting, she should ensure she is not seen as a loser by taking it badly. Men, even if they are rejected, will put a positive spin on things and women should be more graceful so they turn a negative into a positive,” he advised.

Well, I’ve worked in Australia, Hong Kong, the US and the UK yet somehow I’ve managed to miss all those men who are fine about having their ideas


Other gems from Gray include:

* That men “often” viewed “emotional behaviour” from female colleagues as a weakness.

* That women need feedback more than men do.

* That men work more independently than women and don’t like to be micromanaged.

* That men should listen more and talk less – to women anyway.

During my more than 15 years in the workforce – four of those as a careers editor – my own generalisations would be that:

* Australians don’t like to be micro managed – gender doesn’t come into it. I have found that most people prefer to be given a task and then the space to get on with it.

* Conscientious people welcome feedback. I have managed both genders and found no difference in their needs regarding feedback.

* Both men and women need to be recognised and rewarded for their professional efforts.

* No one likes to have his or her ideas stolen.

* Australians rate workplace “flexibility” and “time off” as highly as money or even above. It would appear that what men and women “value” is pretty much the same.

* Both men and women are capable of getting emotional when they feel passionate about their work. And why is that so bad?

* People should be willing to listen to their colleagues – not just talk to them. Listening is not a skill only men need to develop and use.

Now do we really need special coaching sessions to learn this sort of stuff?

Column by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne.

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