Do You Like Working With Women?

Collectively, women have a bit of a bad reputation in the workplace.  Many people who work in female-dominated environments complain that women are gossipy, catty and passive aggressive.  While many of these complaints are exaggerated and are probably based on stereotypes, there are general differences in the way that men and women conduct themselves at work.  Of course there are no universal truths that will hold true for every single working woman, but if you are aware of a few common traits, you may find working with women to be easier and more fulfilling.

Women prefer collaborative decisions.  Women are natural communicators.  They enjoy working together and finding solutions as a team.  If you have a big decision to make, you will get more of your female coworkers on board if you involve them in the process.  Although it can be difficult and even tedious to make a decision as a group, it may be worth the effort to get the support of your coworkers.

Women build strong relationships at work.  Since women are relationship oriented, they often build strong bonds with their coworkers.  It is not uncommon for a bride to invite some of her coworkers to her wedding.  Be open to forming these strong relationships and be aware of them in your workplace.  You will never win by complaining about your coworker’s behaviour to her best friend.   

Women vent their frustrations by talking to a friend.  While this can look a lot like gossip, it may not be at all.  Because many women work out their problems by talking about them, it is only natural that they will tell their friend all about a conflict that they had with another coworker.  Don’t take it personally.  If people are talking about you at work, try to rise above it.  As long as you always conduct yourself professionally, their chatter can’t hurt you.

Women may be less likely to address conflicts directly.  While this certainly cannot be said about all women in the workplace, it is sometimes the case.  Depending on the culture that they were raised in, many women were taught to be polite and nice at all times and were left unequipped to deal with conflicts.  As a result, conflicts are not dealt with directly and they manifest themselves through grudges, gossip and passive resistance.  If you have noticed this behaviour in your coworker, gently approach her by saying something like, “I hope that my comment in the meeting didn’t make you feel bad.  I’ve always enjoyed working with you and I think that once we iron out this problem, everything will go much more smoothly”.  You could also say, “I feel like we don’t talk as much as we used to; I miss our lunch room chats!”.  By forcing your coworker to address the conflict (somewhat) directly, you give yourselves the opportunity to resolve it.       

Women (and men) can be complicated and challenging.  However, if you take the attitude that don’t like working with women, you will be cutting yourself off from a potentially rewarding experience.  Be open to people’s differences and make a genuine effort to work with them.  Keep in mind that you may not be as easy to work with as you think you are!

(Written by Karen Bivand)

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