by Tammy Hughes
A question I’m often asked by people who have been through our GenderSpeak workshop or my keynote on gender differences is, “How can I help ease some of my co-workers’ gender-related frustrations when they haven’t had the opportunity to learn this stuff?”
I believe the best answer is….be the mentor and set the example. The invisible rules can cause a great amount of discomfort in the workplace, so when you bump against gender-related conflict, demonstrate to your team how to most effectively manage the differences. Our workshop, GenderSpeak, provided you with information on how to use the 3 levels, Reinterpret Intent, Flex Style, and Talk It Over, to ease gender related conflict. You also had the chance to practice using these tools in a simulation. I encourage you to apply what you learned in real life – live these out in a real everyday way. Not only will your coworkers see what you do, but by allowing yourself to occasionally reinterpret intent verbally, they’ll hear you say things such as, “Oh I understand why he/she did that. This makes sense when I consider their gender-culture,” and that should help ease their frustration, even though they haven’t been through the Workshop. Negativism toward gender differences in the workplace can become airborne or contagious just like germs, allowing the employee’s attitudes to become stuck at the lowest common denominator. Your teammates may not fully understand the steps you take, but I believe that just by presenting a positive attitude toward gender differences and demonstrating how to navigate them, you may be able to introduce the remedy or cure, helping to make the workplace more relaxed for everyone.