How Should Boys And Girls Interact In The Workplace?

The rules have changed, do you know how to play together?
The rules have changed, do you know how to play together?
Image Credit: Jason Pratt

Just in case you had not noticed it, the world has changed. Sexual harassment has been going on in the workplace for a long time and thanks to the #MeToo movement it’s been brought out into the light. There is currently a big uproar going on with new allegations of improper workplace behavior being announced almost every day. As a manager who is both responsible for using your manager skills to manage a team of both boys and girls as well as working with boys and girls in other departments, the new rules for working in the modern workplace can appear to be quite confusing.

The New Rules

Even with the arrival of the #MeToo movement, men in the workplace will want to act as mentors and advocates to women. However, they realize that they now need some guidance and manager training in order to operate in the supercharged work environment that we now exist in. The challenge is that nobody seems to understand the correct way to manage male-female relationships. The men want to be able to provide help, but they don’t want to cross any lines that will cause them to be viewed as harassing the women that they are trying to help.

A good point is that in the workplace, there are a lot of men who are now watching their next step. However, this new found awareness may not always be helpful to women. The result of the #MeToo movement has been that a number of very important and powerful men have lost their jobs. The result of this is that it has left managers unsure of just exactly how best to engage with women in the workplace. One way that they are dealing with this new situation is by distancing themselves from their female co-workers. This can take on a number of different instances. These include avoiding one-on-one meetings, not attending after work functions, and leaving women out of day-to-day interactions that women use to build their professional relationships and move their careers forward.

Things have changed. A recent survey of men in the workplace revealed that they were uncomfortable working with women in common workplace activities such as mentoring, working alone, or even socializing together. 55% of the surveyed men said that the recent focus in the workplace on sexual harassment and sexual assaults has resulted in a situation in which it has become harder for men to know how they should interact with women while at work.

How To Not Make Any Mistakes

Men still want to help women. They are willing to help them advance in the company by providing coaching and helping them by calling out any bias that they may have. The people who study the workplace that we all work in are telling us that men should be actively working towards establishing more equality in the office. What this actually means is that they need to spend more time having coffee with coworkers, go to to dinner with women more often, and provide more mentorship. Although men are concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing, many of them are using this as an excuse to avoid doing what they should be doing.

One of the big questions that men really want to find the answer to is just exactly what do women want from them in the workplace? The answer turns out to be that women want a man who will be willing to have their back. It is critical to them that any man that they interact with will take the time to listen to them. Communication has be done in a way that meets the woman’s needs. Men need to take the time to understand how men and women interact and then take steps to make sure that women are given a chance to fully express themselves.

One of the places where men and women interact the most is meetings. During meeting men can take steps to make sure that women will be able to express themselves. One problem is called “broappropriation” which is a situation in which a man will restate what a woman has said and then take credit for the idea. Another situation where men can help women during a meeting is when “manterruptions” is happening. This is a situation in which men keep speaking up anytime a woman starts to say something. If you keep your eyes open, you can help your woman coworkers guard against both of these situations.

What All Of This Means For You

The world has changed with the arrival of the #MeToo movement and the dynamics of the way that boys and girls interact in the office has been changed forever. As managers, we need to understand what is going on and what we need to do in order to be successful in the future. We just need to understand what the new rules are going to be.

Even in today’s changed workplace, men still want to provide assistance to women. The men want to be able to provide help, but they don’t want to cross any lines that will cause them to be viewed as harassing the women that they are trying to help. Due to all of the events that have been going on in the workplace, men are starting to take a step back and are minimizing their interactions with women in the workplace. Surveys have shown that men are now uncertain how best to interact with women at work. The experts are saying that men need to be doing more with women even though they may be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Men need to find ways that will allow women to fully express themselves in the workplace. During meetings men can take steps to make sure that women can fully express themselves.

The #MeToo movement has changed the workplace forever. A growing awareness of the problems that sexual harassment has caused is resulting in changes to the way that men and women interact in the workplace. Although change like this is generally good, men have to be careful to not step back too far from their interactions with women. What women want is support and mentorship from men. Men need to learn how to deliver this kind of interaction without seeming to be harassers.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think men and women should avoid situations in which they would be alone together?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it: being a manager can be a very stressful job. People are always asking us for things and we are trying to do our best to use our manager skills to manage our team. If we are not careful, the stress associated with the job can become so much that it starts to affect our relationships and potentially even our health. Managers need a way to deal with all of this stress and our manager training does not tell us what we need to do. In the past, managers have tried various activities such as skydiving, mountain climbing, and going to the gym. However, lately a new approach has shown up that can be done in the office: meditation.