The other day, I was talking to my husband about what lessons and skills we need to pass on to our daughter. We got onto the subject because I was pleased that she is getting involved in one of the few non-gender separated sports that her male PE teacher is leading. As an aside, he has a dry, sarcastic sense of humour and doesn’t mind “taking the piss” type jokes. As a family that suits and my daughter thrives in such an environment, if not necessarily with the sporting ability! (She is young, it takes time…)

I have observed that learning and being involved in more typically masculine sports and environment’s will set our daughter up for her future.

With the conversation progressing as it did, I realised that men, in the most part, seem to be socialised to understand that to get along in this world, the social side of an endeavour is just as important as the hard work. Maybe that is through team sports or is it elsewhere?

Teams work better together when they spend time together socially. You know people on a different level. You create a shorthand, when you like someone, you want to help them and see them succeed.

I have worked with many teams where a Friday on the golf course or a long team lunch in work hours is fine, they don’t even hide it. Men have coffees with colleagues, whilst the women may see this as time away from work, men seem to see it as an integral part of their work.

Why are women missing out on this hugely valuable tool of socialising. I appreciate as a working mother the challenge of juggling life, work, family and hobbies.

So I see the first part is that we need to see socialising as part of our work and prioritise it more highly than the boring report creation that gives tangible proof of work done that no-one will read. Any arguments?

In talking with my husband around this subject, he told me that when he invites people out for a social drinks/lunch etc. most of the women stay at their desks (he works in technology but has quite a high % of women on the team). Only one of the women regularly joins them. When he talks about her in terms of projects she works on, it is obvious he holds her in higher esteem than the other women and is much more likely to help out when she gets stuck.

I will write a caveat here that we shouldn’t have to change our likes/dislikes/personality etc to fit in. BUT life is a journey that we share with others and to make it in a comfortable way, we have to bump along, playing nice with the other kids.

Yes, you will likely have to spend time doing and talking about things that you are not interested in, but, by extension, as they get to know you, the conversation will be guided by you sometimes. I appreciate that it is hard to spend time with people you don’t know very well, but to get anywhere in life you need to extend your comfort zone.

If we want to get our shoulders up and our elbows on the table, we need to socialise with the best of them! If they can do it, so can we!

Maybe stretch yourself to have a coffee with a new person at your office/work once a week. If you worry about work, do it in your lunch hour or straight after work. This is the best form of networking, it has a direct purpose and impact on your daily life, you can call upon colleagues to help you when you know and like them.

Remember a stranger is a friend you don’t know yet.

I will be teaching my daughter that it is important to learn the rules of at least one male dominated sport (mine is Rugby). She needs to hold her own on a pool table or dart board. She needs to be able to take the piss out of herself and others without causing offence. She needs to give as good as she gets but know where the line is drawn and call it out to stop.  

A second caveat, I am not saying we need to tolerate sh*t, disrespect and misogyny, we live in an imperfect world and need to protect our own self-esteem by behaving in a way that gives us a little protection and stepping back when it becomes difficult.

Sometimes we realise too late that other people will help us succeed, don’t waste your time learning lessons by yourself that those before you can warn you against and give you tools to avoid them.

Ghilaine Chan

Chief-of-Staff & Business Advisor

She enables businesses or individuals to become more effective and efficient by equipping them with outcome based approaches that allow them to get the best from their employees or themselves.

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