The Unspoken Rules of Office Culture--According to Men

by Cathy Vandewater | March 08, 2011

  • My Vault

In celebration of International Women's Day, Shaunti Feldhahn would like to give women of the world the gift of tough love.

The Male Factor

Her book, The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace, comes straight from the mouths of hundreds of corporate men. And the results--an insightful, if challenging, collection of private prejudices, fears, and words of advice--may prove invaluable for the women in the cubicles next to them.

Feldhahn's research, which included a nine year—and counting—survey and interview process, culled "laundry lists" of praise from the men, in addition to critiques. But the book focuses mainly on constructive criticism. "I really wanted to use my space--not just to say "aren't we wonderful," Feldhhan explains. "You're buying this book for some help, so here's some help!"

That help is identifying behaviors that are losing women valuable respect, attention, and effectiveness with their male coworkers—and why. "To the degree you're working with men, you're working with internal, unspoken, unseen unwritten male culture," Feldhahn says. "It's going to be in your best interests if you at least know what that is."

For example—do you have a habit of emoting when you get bad news? Even if an outburst isn't directed at anyone in particular, you may be surprised at the negative impact it can have on the men at your office--and on your image.

"[Men] do not want to have to worry about how someone is going to react when they approach them with something," says Feldhahn. "In general, they know how men are going to react, but they're not necessarily as sure how women are going to react when they bring them something. That brings a little discomfort. They really prefer working with people they don't have that discomfort with."     

Click here for more on Feldhahn and her findings.

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--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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