Understanding opposite sex vital to success in the workplace

A man needs to know that when a woman asks him to go with her to find a black skirt, the trip to the mall is not just about a black skirt; it is about every possible black skirt out there.

A woman, on the other hand, needs to know that when a man finds her a black skirt, it is not time to continue the search for another three hours; it is time to go home – mission accomplished.

That is the message the audience heard Tuesday from Tammy Hughes, a workshop presenter specializing in gender-related issues in the workplace. She said adjusting to one another in the workplace is the most important thing.

“We both want the same things, but we carry around these different structures,” Hughes said.

Both men and women want to do the right thing, but they have a different set of rules for what they think is right and wrong, Hughes said.

“There is a fundamental belief that I have embraced for 12 years, and that is that people do things for reasons that make sense to them,” Hughes said.

Many men and women think it is impossible to understand one another, but people just need to learn to read what others are saying and negotiate with one another, Hughes said.

The differences people need to be aware of concern verbal language, body language and competition, Hughes said. Understanding these will help people adjust to the level of each gender in their workplace, she said.

Hughes asked her listeners to participate in an activity which involved discussing favorite childhood toys with each other. After a few minutes of reminiscence, the audience was asked if any of the toys translated into someone’s adulthood. Participants, majority of whom were women, raised their eyebrows and nodded in agreement.

Hughes said boys who are put in a room with toys are attracted to speed, power and noise, while girls create relationships between their dolls, instead of just dressing them up.

Studies show that women are process-focused while men are goal-focused, Hughes said.

“Understanding the differences between men and women are little things that are usually overlooked,” said Danielle Belanger, a junior finance and accounting major. Belanger introduced Hughes at the beginning of the event.

Hughes said coming to an understanding of one’s own gender culture and opposite gender culture and valuing the differences between the two allows for productive and effective solutions to relational issues in the workplace.

Jaci Grainger, a freshman engineering major, said the speech was informative and will help her in school and in the future.

Hughes uses her GenderSpeak presentations to train employees for companies, such as McDonald’s, Procter and Gamble, Sony Pictures Entertainment and TGI Friday’s, all over the world, said Belanger. Hughes spearheaded the GenderSpeak presentations more than 18 years ago and is considered the master instructor.

For 10 years, Hughes has been the president of the Heim Group, a company that specializes in solving gender-related issues in the workplace.

The Neeley School of Business, in partnership with the Institute on Women and Gender, sponsored the event along with Crystelle Waggoner Charitable Trust and Extended Education, according to the TCU Web site.