“The men I work with always feel like they do everything better. Even though I know what I’m talking about, they don’t listen to me. They always expect me to be perfect, even though they’re not.”
As harsh as each of those comments about the opposite sex sounds, how closely do you relate? Did you find yourself nodding in agreement with your particular gender’s description of the other?
In the 1,000’s of years that women and men have existed together in civil environments, you’d think we would understand each other by now. Instead, the conflict is more pronounced than ever and the battle lines are drawn by our differences. The battle objective? Fix what is wrong with the other!
When asked, “What would fix or change about the opposite sex?” women, from teens to retirees, have nearly identical responses regardless of background or current situation. Men group themselves by the similarity of their responses as well.
The question itself keys on the universal perception that our differences are negatives in the world rather than just “differences.” When compiled and boiled down to the essence of the responses, a clear Fix’em List emerges.
The Fix’em List
Men fixing Women
Be less emotional
Be more physical
Be less “romantic”
Want more sex
Be less involved with others’ problems
Be more rational
Be more serious
Put job/career first
Stay home more
Have less attention on clothes
Be on time
Women fixing Men
Be more emotional
Be less physical
Be more “romantic”
Want less sex
Care more about people
Lighten up. Be silly
Be more spontaneous
Have more fun
Put family first
Go out of the home more
Be more flexible
Have more attention on how they dress
Have more attention on personal hygiene
Be more compassionate
Be more flexible
Each gender believes that what they are saying is true, that these are “facts,” not opinion. There is agreement among men and women about these “facts.” For example, men repeatedly comment about women acting like they are super sensitive, like it’s a game.
Is she acting or is she actually more sensitive? The fact is, women are more sensitive than men in a number of ways. What looks like extreme sensitivity on a woman’s part may actually be a simple limitation of her physical structure, just as there are some physical things about a man that a woman finds annoying or disgusting or rude.
The men’s list accuses women of being overly sensitive. The women’s list says the men are insensitive. Every item for one gender is opposed by the other. Each is saying, “If you were only more like me, everything would be fine.”
Our desire to change each other, while well intentioned, is based on a dangerous assumption: the other gender’s behaviors are wrong.
When we view one situation, one set of facts, from each viewpoint there may be completely different perception of who is right or wrong. This is mindset in motion. Because of our focus and bias toward what we see, anything opposed to our position is automatically wrong instead of just being different.
In my practice I’ve seen countless conflicts between spouses and business associates started by this unconscious bias. “Their way of thinking and acting is not the same as mine. They are wrong!” Instead of giving them insight on how to fix the other person, I do my best to help them understand the position of the other person. That approach is about fixing situations, not people, and it works like crazy!
The best work I’ve found on gender differences and our tendencies to want to “fix” the other is from a specialist in interpersonal communication, Joe Tanenbaum. If you’ve not heard of Joe, don’t worry. His work is as brilliant and insightful as it is hard to find. We’re going to fix that though.
I have secured an opportunity to bring Joe’s 20+ years of research and application together with mine and make it available in brand new, easy to implement packages. We’re going to make a movement of embracing the differences and harnessing their power to create greater experiences for all.
In that spirit, we want to hear from you. What are the areas of conflict and frustration you have with your business associates, spouse, or other relationships? We’ll tackle those issues head-on and bring some effective clarity to an otherwise cloudy mess.
We would like to have the issues in the comments section, but if they are too personal, feel free to send them directly to me using the Contact Us form and you will remain anonymous.
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PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset and Unlock Your Life: How to go beyond Time-Management to the Life of Your Dreams. You can download a copy of Flip the SWITCH for Free by clicking here.