I went to a talk today with authors Barbara Annis and John Gray, leading authorities on how to get the sexes to understand one another and work together. Barbara Annis has just published the book Leadership and the Sexes, and John Gray is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
They uncovered some surprising research currently being conducted about the male and female brains, and then used that research to formulate strategies for men and women to use together to create better work environments. Here are the top 10 points of interest that I took away from their presentation:
1.) Under stress, women remember more details and men remember fewer details. In general, women have better memories than men. When he tells you he really doesn’t remember, he’s telling the truth!
2.) Women can speak and listen simultaneously because the capability to listen is housed in multiple areas of their brains. The male brain is better equipped to focus solely on speaking or listening because all of their listening ability is housed in one area of their brains. So the pause between his listening and speaking is legit – give him the time to process.
3.) Women are more susceptible to stress and the average woman at work experiences 2X the amount of stress that men do. To compensate women have more endurance to continue to function under stress, however this increased stress and desire to continue to perform under stress causes many health problems in women. Ladies, get to yoga class, take a walk, meditate. You need to cut your stress levels!
4.) When men feel stressed, they slow down and do less. This helps them process information during stressful times. Women actually speed up under stress and do more. This is detrimental to women’s well-being. Ladies, take a tip from the guys – in times of stress, take a step back, breath, and relax.
5.) Under stress, men seek space to sort out the situation independently. Women seek understanding and turn to others when stressed. In connection, stress among men drops when they disconnect from others. Women’s stress level increases when they are disconnected from other people. In times of stress, give people what they need to feel better.
6.) Men prefer to be left alone at work, and find well-being in the workplace from more responsibility and opportunity. Women have a desire to feel connected to their employers and co-workers. The #1 reason women leave corporations is not for work-life balance but because they don’t feel valued by their employer. Corporate America, listening is and under-rated skill and you need to encourage it among your teams.
7.) Single men take more risks than married men, and fail more as a result. However, I believe in the axioms, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and “fortune rewards the bold.” There’s nothing wrong with calculated risk.
8.) Testosterone does not increase aggressive behavior, but lowers reaction time. Under stress, men are likely to make quicker decisions as a result. Guys, take more time with decisions when possible. You’ll be happier in the long-run.
9.) Because of lower testosterone levels, women tend to weigh consequences of actions more often than men do. Guys, consequences matter – take a bit more time with your choices.
10.) To create a better working environment, men and women have to stop blaming one another for their differences and seek to really understand one another.
These differences have their benefits and should be celebrated! We’ll all be happier and healthier as a result – we have so much to learn from one another.