In our MBA class tonight, we discussed teamwork. Even a high-performing team needs direction. It is a manager’s job to provide clarification. That can come in the form of goals, a vision of the end result, a mission statement, a specific group task. The leader gets to define the what. And the leader often gets to choose the who. Maybe even the why. But it is the team that owns the how.
I think that women often fail men in this area. We pick the who, the what, and the why (if we even know it. Females are complicated. The person who understands me the least is probably…me.) But we also try to determine the how.
There is a place for honest and simple declarations of how we need something: “I really need a hug right now because _____.”
But often, let’s be honest, we hide the how. We know what we want: affirmation, a compliment, advice, something fixed, a listening ear, feelings of security and safety, reassurance that we’re not alone/normal/pretty/interesting. But we hide how we want that communicated. Instead, we play this game where we ask a male (spouse, significant other, father, brother, friend, coworker, classmate) for something and then we get snippy or moody or sad when we get what we asked for but not in the way that we wanted it. Not only do we want men to be mind-readers but we also want them to be avenue-of-response-readers. We expect them to guess what we need and the mode in which we want that need met.
It’s a lot to expect something from someone else when we can’t even define it ourselves. We’ve all been frustrated by the “I’ll know it when I see it” phrase used when finding a street you need to turn onto or choosing a font for a wedding invite or shopping for an outfit. If we don’t know the criteria, we can’t help in the search. We are dead weight.
Men don’t like being dead weight. They sincerely want to help. Wouldn’t it be simpler to be clear in what we need? And then sit back, no expectations, and allow them to be creative in their solutions. Maybe I thought I needed a hug and it would solve the problem. I don’t get a hug. Instead, I get an articulate response that reaffirms exactly what I needed to hear. But I completely discredit it because it was not a hug and I am hung up on needing that hug. (Even though I don’t know for sure that a hug is the answer.) Wanting a glass of milk, I disregarded the milkshake. And the more we do that, let our expectations cloud the gifts we are given, the more guys will stop being creative and thoughtful and unique and wait for us to tell them what and how and when and why.
So let’s start treating guys like computers. Let’s CTRL + ALT + DELETE and use formulas to get the exact response we want. And then we will be happy.
Wrong. Anytime we stifle creativity (in a relationship, on a team) we lose something unique. Does a guy being able to read your mind and know that when you said “I need a compliment” you meant “Tell me, right now, that I look cute in these boots” mean that he cares more about you than the guy who hears “I need a compliment” and, a few hours later, praises your ability to always see joy in bad circumstances over dinner with another couple?
Let’s choose less expectations. No grading. Less judgment. And more anticipation. Excitement. Gratitude.
Women fail men when they always tell them how. And men fail women when they never consider that it matters.