Interview contributed by Cody McKibben —
Julie Jansen is a motivational speaker, career coach, meeting facilitator, and trainer. She’s consulted for corporations like TIME, Merrill Lynch, and General ElectricJulie is also the author of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work and You Want Me to Work With Who? Eleven Keys to a Stress-Free, Satisfying and Successful Work Life…No Matter Who You Work With.
Julie, in your book I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This, you strive to help readers make satisfying career choices. In your experience, what are the core differences between men and women when it comes to making career decisions?
Women tend to talk to a larger number of people and be more open about discussing what their issues and problems are regarding their careers. They also seek out more opinions while men are more reticent to ask for advice from people.
Men typically internalize much more until they are at the end of their rope about how to move forward. They simply aren’t as comfortable with asking for help.
At the same time, people are people and my experience in my coaching practice shows that most people never think deeply or strategically about their careers or realize the importance of doing so until they are faced with a reason to do so. Even then, they are reactive and sporadic in their efforts rather then planful or anticipatory. People will plan weddings and vacations or financing their kid’s college education but rarely their careers. The elements are the same…What do you want? What do you need? What are your resources? What’s your ultimate desired outcome?
I believe we really need to get people to think more about career development and planning. What about assertiveness? Some lay wisdom I’ve seen from pop psychology books suggests that women aren’t as assertive with their careers or financial decisions. From your experience, is that true?
Unfortunately this is very true. Women aren’t comfortable promoting themselves and their achievements in their company to senior people or even peers. They are also very uncomfortable asking for raises or if self-employed, asking for higher fees. This is unfortunate because then women feel dissatisfied, unfulfilled, resentful, or disregarded if they don’t get what they need and want.
Men tend to view self-promotion and compensation negotiation as normal and appropriate behavior. Men like to talk about themselves more often up front and women are more interested in building relationships first and then when it’s safe, discussing money or achievements. Because men can be more direct in communicating their needs they usually get what they need.
Your second book You Want Me to Work With Who? focuses on building a stress-free workplace no matter who you work with. How do men and women deal with difficult people at work in different ways?
The most common technique for dealing with a difficult person is to ignore them and talk about them behind their back. By the way, both men and women deal with challenging people this way. Some reasons for this is because most people hate confrontation. They don’t think the person will change their behavior anyway or in some cases, they don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings.
On the other hand, while many people act passively, others are overtly aggressive. There is an appropriate process for dealing with tough people. Talk with them face-to-face with specific examples of how their behavior affects business. Talk with them two more times, again with documentation. If the behavior hasn’t changed, go over their head and tell them that this is what you plan on doing. Most people haven’t had coaching about this process though so they just don’t approach that difficult person in their life properly.
Good pointer! I need to practice that. Can you tell us about your research for both of your books? Who did you interview and how did you come by your conclusions?
I Don’t Know What I Want was based on approximately 50 case studies of real people whom I interviewed, and on my experience as a coach, trainer, and speaker.
I hired a researcher for You Want Me to Work With Who? He researched the content aspect of my Eleven Keys (Confidence, Curiosity, Decisiveness, Empathy, Flexibility, Humor, Intelligence, Optimism, Perseverance, Respect, and Self-awareness) and I sent out a survey to 50 people asking them to cite real examples of how they or others exhibited the Eleven Keys.
Any other advice for those of us fighting through the trenches at work (both men and women)?
* Keep a true sense of yourself – who you are, what’s important to you, and what you want in and from work. Be as aware as possible about these things constantly instead of waiting until you have to.
* Stop looking at work as tedious, adversarial or drudgery. It should be fun, rewarding and fulfilling most of the time. If it isn’t, realize that you have the power and accountability to make changes to get these things.
* Work (and personal) relationships aren’t usually easy. This means that you have to try hard to get along with people and change your behavior in order to help someone change his or her behavior.
Cody McKibben is a student, blogger, designer, instigator and weekend entrepreneur. He enjoys interviewing entrepreneurs and other experts and blogs regularly at THRILLINGheroics.com and codymckibben.com.