BOOK REVIEW

Book details workplace blind spots between sexes


Published: Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 4:20 p.m.

Unless you live and work at a monastery, chances are you work with both men and women. According to Barbara Annis and John Gray, however, we're kind of bumbling when it comes to sharing office space with the opposite sex.

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"Work With Me" By Barbara Annis and John Gray; Palgrave Macmillan; 272 pages; $27

In "Work With Me," the authors explore eight "blind spots" they say create tension between men and women in the workplace. Among them: women's tendency to ask more questions, men's belief they have to walk on eggshells with women, women's feeling they are being excluded and men's belief that women are too emotional. The authors say their objective is to expose and eliminate those blind spots and encourage a more "gender intelligent" workforce.

Annis and Gray have some impressive gender intelligence cred themselves. He's the author of 17 books, including one you've probably heard of: "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." She runs a company that does workshops and consulting on gender differences in the workplace, including work for Fortune 500 companies.

The authors' credentials create some high expectations, and they only heighten those themselves, promising that the book contains (for the first time!) survey results of more than 100,000 quantitative and qualitative statements from men and women. You might fairly assume that by the book's end you will be equipped with a set of special gender intelligence goggles that allow you to splendidly navigate working with co-workers of any gender.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from its own blind spots. The authors suggest they're writing for all offices but instead seem to be writing mostly for employees of massive corporations and offices where women are the minority and not the bosses. Readers who work in smaller offices or in offices with a different gender balance can expect to feel as though they're reading a book meant for someone else. The book also suffers from being repetitive, and then there are passages called "the science side" that attempt to explain the biological reasons behind differences between the sexes. Frankly, these were boring, and I wound up skipping them as the book went on.

Sure, I took away some useful insights. For example, women ask more questions than men, not just for clarity but to create an atmosphere of consensus building.

Still, by the time I got to the end of the book, I felt swindled. I'd been promised those gender intelligence goggles. Instead, all I got was a cheap pair of sunglasses offering a slightly colored view of the world but certainly no special powers.

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