What Women See, and Why It's Important

Women see the world through a distinctive lens and can use their vision to their advantage. Author Sally Helgesen provides this posting's list of The Five Things Women Notice -- and What Organizations (and Men) Can Learn From Them.

1. Women take a robust scan of the emotional temperature in a room. Women employ their capacity for broad-scale notice in order to read what people in a meeting are feeling. Are they present and engaged, or do they feel isolated and awkward?

Example: One woman in our book was asked by her employer to “just notice what goes on in a meeting” She came back with vital observations about a key partnership in jeopardy. Her employer dismissed the information, saying that “by notice I meant notice if the numbers add up.”

2. Women employ multiple senses when summing up a situation.
Notice isn’t just about what we see—it derives from multisensory impressions.

Example: Details matter. An otherwise powerful conference will not make as positive impression if the sensory aspects of it are unpleasant. Sound, smell, temperature and feel affect our judgment and how we remember. Yet most organizations don’t know how to use sensory information.

3. Women notice if the daily experience of work is rewarding. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many organizations tend to emphasize abstractions when offering incentives and rewards rather than supporting an employee’s ability to enjoy the daily practice of work.

Example: In our survey on differences in how men and women perceive, define and pursue satisfaction in the workplace, we found that women are less likely to be motivated by what a job might lead to in the future if they also perceive that job as offering a low quality of life in the present.

4. Women notice when collegiality is not valued. Many companies have learned to speak the language of teamwork and collaboration, but their policies do nothing to support it.

Example: In most sales units, providing support to help a team member meet a goal is neither recognized nor rewarded. People are instead graded and ranked on their individual achievements.

5. Women notice when other women’s suggestions get overlooked in a meeting. They see it as a sign of disrespect to women in general.

Example: Jill offers an idea at a sales conference. No one responds. Ten minutes later, Jim makes the same suggestion, using different words. This happens all the time. Men who notice this have a great opportunity to show their support for women by speaking up: “Great idea, Jim! I see you’re building on what Jill suggested.”

What are your thoughts and responses?


Five Ways to Be A Better Social Networker

There's an old New Yorker cartoon that shows two dogs sitting at a laptop. One says to the other, "On the internet, no one knows that you're a dog." Yes, the internet offers anonymity, but it also seems to encourage some bad behavior and poor judgment when it comes to online interactions. Deanna Zandt has worked with technology and social media all her life and has noticed that even the most experienced networkers lapse into bad habits from time to time.

For this reason (and for the purposes of educating new social networkers), Deanna presents this issue's list of The Five Mistakes People (Even the Professionals) Make with Social Networking:

1. Thinking like it's television. Many organizations see social networks like Twitter and Facebook as just another way to broadcast about the work that they're doing, whether that's selling products or promoting advocacy. This is akin to showing up at a party, getting on a chair, and yelling to everyone that you're awesome. Don't broadcast, have conversations. Your audience is a community of people, not a mass of passive listeners.

2. Talking only about yourself.
Again, you wouldn't do this at a party, would you? Social networks function a lot like ad-hoc, informal get togethers. You ask people what they're up to, you share some of what you're doing, and you pass on good news from friends or interesting things you've seen and read. There's a lot of give and take; only about 20-30% of your posts should be about your own work or mission.

3. Crafting "messages." While it's certainly worthwhile to make sure the material you're sharing on social networks is part of the bigger picture of the work you do, being overly careful about "staying on message" can ring hollow with your community. Remember, social networks are comprised of humans interacting with each other -- treat yourself, and your community as the living, breathing creatures they are.

4. Showing up only to vent. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I get really irritated with people who never participate in the thriving conversations on social networks, and only post grousings about the clerk at the grocery store or how terrible Jetblue's customer service has become. Social networks can be sounding boards, for sure, but they're so much more than that.

5. Reading lists of do's and don'ts. Yep, I'm getting a little meta here -- time for me to take some of my own medicine. Really, my point in saying this is that there are an awful lot of social networking "gurus" out there who try to prescribe all kinds of behavior for their own ends (often selling something). But much like our interactions offline, we shouldn't be limited by how a consumer-oriented culture wants us to behave... so really, just get in there and be yourself.

Give us your social networking wisdom, reactions, and thoughts below.