Men and Women Interacting Differently in Business

The Chicago Tribune Business Section had a fascinating story on December 12th, written by Rex W. Huppke, under the byline I just Work Here. Huppke’s Twitter moniker is @RexWorksHere and you can find out more about him at chicagotribune.com/ijustworkhere or email him at IJustWorkhere@tribune.com.

The story centered on a book entitled Business Networking and Sex by Ivan Misner, Hazel M. Walker, and Frank J. De Raffele. In his story Huppke says, “…it’s a fascinating examination of the ways professional men and women interact and network. Based on data culled from about 12,000 online surveys and interviews with an array of experts, the book provides refreshingly pragmatic takes on why women and men interact differently in the working world, as well as suggestions on how to improve those interactions.”

Huppke’s bottom line take of the book is that most men and women approach their business dealings quite differently, and neither sex seems very interested in grasping the often resulting disconnect. Co-author Hazel Walker is quoted as saying, “We want the exact same things, we’re headed to the same destination. We just use different techniques and tactics to get there.”

Huppke tells us, “…men tend to use a ‘transactional’ approach to business: very direct, cut to the chase, close the deal, with a good amount of highlighting one’s accomplishments mixed in…. Women more often use a ‘relational’ approach: getting to know people, building a relationship first and then getting down to the business at hand.”

He goes on to say, “And the bad news for my fellow men is, not surprisingly, the women’s approach seems to be more effective.” Co-author Ivan Misner is quoted as saying, “When we really looked at the data, women fared much better in the results. The bottom line is women spend less time networking and still get a greater percentage of their business through referrals. Whether you’re a man or a woman, focusing on the professional relationship will get you farther than focusing on a transaction.”

Hazel Walker is also quoted as saying, “The problem is that women speak to men to relate, and men speak to women to impress. Because women speak to relate, men think they’re not serious about their business, they always get personal. They’re just as serious as the guys are; they just do it differently.”

I recommend you research and read Huppke’s entire story to fully appreciate it, discover all the points it makes—for example, how women can learn to better relate to men and men can learn how to better relate to women.

I’m also bringing it to your attention because I think it supports what I, and others, have been stressing to you: establish a relationship with the prospect/customer before you try to sell her anything. Establishing the relationship first—the way most women do—will enhance your ability to dig deep, ask questions, ascertain the information necessary to serve the prospect/customer at the highest level.

Pay attention to the women in your organization, gentlemen! They’ve got the right idea; it’s time to emulate them.

What do you think?