Arin Reeves uses the terms “Mansplaining,” “Manterrupting” and “Bropropriating” to describe ways in which men interrupt women. These phenomena have received lots of attention lately—by Sandberg and Grant in the NYT, Joann Lipman in the WSJ – and by me. Can awareness help assure that women are heard and get credit for their ideas? Fixing this can support the engagement and retention of women – and that is good for business results.
Joanne Lipman’s recent article in the WSJ provides a “guide” for men to women at work. She says that women get enough advice and provides some to men. Men should understand that women have a different way of speaking; they should not wait for women to raise their hands; they should not fear that a woman will cry and should give direct feedback. And they should recognize that women work hard for the credibility that comes automatically to them. Good advice!
Women often complain about having a bad woman boss, generalizing their criticism to all women. In a difficult relationship between a woman boss and female subordinate, there is often a generational difference. While inter-generational differences can play a role, I think, the conflict is mostly based on deeply rooted gender issues. Women are less comfortable in a hierarchical relationship with another woman. And women share a culturally-based sense that men deserve top positions more than women.
What challenges face women in building the kind of business relationships that can lead to selling their professional services? Lots of business relationships are built at ballgames and on the golf course. Men are generally more likely to enjoy both. Some women feel golf is critical. Others are happy to find other ways to develop business.
What issues are different for women in building the business relationships necessary to sell personal services to men? Baby Boomer women are uncomfortable asking a man out for dinner or drinks because of the risk of sexual innuendo. Millennial women seem more comfortable doing so with men of their own generation – but not with older men.
While there are many successful women in sales, proportionally fewer are good at selling themselves (e.g., as a provider of professional services). Both older and younger women have a hard time “tooting their own horn.” Women find it easier, in general, to sell others and may do a “soft sell.” Reluctance to sell oneself is deeply rooted in nature (brain structure and hormones) and nurture. The “confidence gap” may affect some women’s ability to sell themselves.