His Say

What’s it like for a man in a woman’s world?

CLEO (Malaysia) - - NEWS -

I’ve worked in women’s mag­a­zines for a while now. Long enough to see acid wash twice. Gen­er­ally, I’ve been the only guy in the of­fice. It’s a ra­tio for which I’m eter­nally grate­ful and not for the rea­sons you may think. I was al­ways pet­ri­fied about do­ing wrong by one fe­male col­league and the rest judge me (fairly, I might add) for it. That said, women do things dif­fer­ent in the cu­bi­cle jun­gle. Some might say bet­ter and I’d agree. This is what I’ve learned from my fe­male col­leagues so far.

How To Be A Bet­ter Part­ner

Women talk to their col­leagues about their re­la­tion­ships to a greater de­gree than men do – and some­times to a de­gree of such anatom­i­cal de­tail that I would never dream of shar­ing with my clos­est male friends. Point is, I recog­nised my own faults/feel­ings/ be­hav­iour in many of their re­la­tion­ship anec­dotes. Some­times, I was asked my ad­vice “as a man” and again saw my­self in the mys­ti­fy­ing and some­times hurt­ful be­hav­iour of their part­ners.

The Glass Ceil­ing Ain’t Go­ing Nowhere

I’ve lost count of the num­ber of fe­male col­leagues I’ve seen passed over for jobs that were out­sourced to men with­out their skills, tal­ent, or track record. The dou­ble stan­dard is noth­ing short of ap­palling and I’ve yet to work with a man who felt that a cor­po­rate cul­ture was forc­ing him to de­cide be­tween fam­ily and ca­reer. We can maybe start with the idea that hav­ing a vag­ina equates with lesser pay for the same job.

The Moth­er­hood/ Work Jug­gle

Be­ing around work­ing mums and see­ing how tough this role is gave me a height­ened ap­pre­ci­a­tion of my own mother’s achieve­ments. Be­cause at the end of the day, it’s rarely dad who ditches the of­fice went Timmy swal­lows a pot of glue at day care.

Valu­ing Em­pa­thy

As a man, I think I was hard­wired to go into “so­lu­tions” mode and it took me sev­eral years to fig­ure out that my col­leagues were plenty ca­pa­ble of find­ing these by them­selves. It turns out they just needed some­one to lis­ten and say “that’s re­ally shit” when the sit­u­a­tion was. This les­son also fil­tered into my re­la­tion­ships and was way more ap­pre­ci­ated and worth­while.

The Power Of Si­lence

Men – by which I mean me – tend to think we know a lot more about com­mu­ni­cat­ing with women than we do. Suf­fice to say, if there’s one sin­gle piece of ad­vice I can give to other guys who find them­selves the lone male at work, it’s know­ing when to say noth­ing, put the block of choco­late on the ta­ble, and back silently out of the room.

Lit­tle Ges­tures, Big Value

The fi­nal gift I have re­ceived over my work­ing life is a demon­stra­tion of the power of a small act of kind­ness like a bunch of flow­ers on a birth­day, an­niver­sary, or for no rea­son in par­tic­u­lar. See­ing the ef­fect it had on those around me made me lift my game in my own mar­riage. So thank you, my val­ued col­leagues for rais­ing my per­for­mance both at and away from the of­fice.

Be­ing the only man in an of­fice full of women is a long and

some­times lonely road.

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