In the movie, What Women Want, Nick, played by Mel Gibson has the power to hear everything women are thinking, including his female competitor who got the promotion he wanted. At first the shocking surprise of what women really think is so painful that he views it as a curse. But he soon realizes just how valuable this gift can be -- and uses it to his competitive advantage.
I felt a lot like a female version of Nick as I was researching my new book, The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace. My eight years of research were all about digging into the surprising, private perceptions that are common to men and often impact women – but which we would never hear otherwise. In interviews and surveys, I guaranteed more than 3,000 men anonymity to tell all, so women all across America could be equipped with knowledge that is mission-critical to effectiveness and influence with any male boss, colleague, subordinate or client.
During those years of research I realized that in many ways, the private thoughts and expectations of men functions like the unwritten rules of a foreign culture. When I was working on Wall Street, my job involved analyzing Japanese banks and the financial system, to make recommendations to decision makers. When you go into a foreign culture in that way, you expect to do homework so you know how what you do or say may be perceived in their culture. In many ways, understanding men is like that; there is an internal male culture that is every bit as real as walking into a foreign country. And it is every bit as important to understand how something is going to be perceived. If we grow fluent in this internal male culture, we as women can be much more effective, avoid shooting ourselves in the foot, and even remove some obstacles that we may not have even known were there.
What do men privately say when they are promised anonymity and can be completely honest and candid? Through personal private interviews, focus groups, and a nationally representative survey, The Male Factor identifies a number of hypotheses about how men think that were the greatest surprises to women. These topics became the starting point of each chapter, including:
- My big picture observations of how men view women in the workplace
- What is meant by “It’s not personal, it’s business”
- The “unwritten rules” of the working world
- How men view emotions – and what they see as ‘getting emotional’ in the first place
- The secret inner beliefs, concerns and fears every man shares
- The little things that drive men crazy
- How men feel about getting it done no matter what
- The visual trap that can undermine your career
- Top themes that emerged when men were asked for their advice for women in the workplace
For more information on the book or the research, visit my web site at: http://www.shaunti.com/BooksStudies/TheMaleFactor/tabid/340/Default.aspx