How To Understand Women And Men In The Workplace, With John Gray

Since the dawn of time, men have complained that it is impossible to know how to understand women. At the same time, women have often complained that men simply don’t appreciate them enough.

It is easier to relate to a person of the opposite gender if the two of you are close to each other. However, if you are only colleagues and don’t know each other well, it may be a bit trickier.

This article is here to help ease the difficulty, by demonstrating how to understand women and men in the workplace on a scientific level. 

John Gray, the author of the famous Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, shares some tips for understanding women and understanding men, especially in the workplace. 

One of the most important things John Gray points out is that male and female brains work differently. So, what makes men happy won’t necessarily make women happy, and vice versa. The reason behind this lies in the production of hormones.

Hormones, such as oxytocin and estrogen, make women feel happier and more satisfied. On the other hand, testosterone is responsible for making men happy (testosterone is also good for women, it’s all about the balance).

However, if men produce more oxytocin, for example, they will get sleepy and their testosterone production will go down. If you are interested in learning more about brain chemistry, then read about the amazing properties of gamma brain waves.

John Gray on love
John Gray speaking at Mindvalley’s A-Fest

Different Understanding Of Appreciation By Men And Women

When it comes to the workplace, one of the biggest problems of both genders is feeling unappreciated. However, women tend to express their dissatisfaction more often than men.

According to John Gray’s statistics, 95% of men say that they appreciate their female colleagues, whereas over 60% of women say that they do not feel appreciated. The reason behind this is their different understanding of appreciation, says Gray.

John Gray points out that men feel appreciated when they feel the reward or the outcome of their hard work. For them, the definition of appreciation is getting a reward, a promotion, or a new opportunity.

Unlike men who value the outcome only, women need to be appreciated every step of their journey.

For them, the greatest token of appreciation is when you listen to them and listen to the entire struggle they had to go through in order to complete a certain task. It’s not just about the completion of the task.

If you are unsure how to understand women and their sense of appreciation, here is some simple advice. Both men and women feel understood only when they get an opportunity to say what is bothering them. However, women feel appreciated when you let them talk about their concerns and when you show interest in what they do.

In order to show interest, there is only one simple thing you need to do – ask questions.

When your female coworker talks about her problem, don’t simply jump straight to the solution. Instead, ask her a few questions and try to come up with the solution together. Or, better yet, let her come up with the solution on her own. 

The different understanding of appreciation by men and women once again can be explained with brain chemistry.

When you listen to a woman and ask her questions, she will feel understood. When she feels understood, her oxytocin levels will rise. Oxytocin is the love hormone and in women, help them to thrive.

On the other hand, anything that pumps up a man’s testosterone will make him feel appreciated. What men love the most are rewards, confirmation, and encouragement – e.g. when you tell him “Wow, that is a great idea” or “you’re absolutely right.”

Blind Spots At Work Between Opposite Genders

John Gray points out that women and men sometimes are not aware of their innate differences.

Many people believe that the idea of male and female brains being different is just a stereotype. But, as you can see in the examples above, they actually do work in a completely different manner.

This lack of understanding often leads to the creation of the so-called “blind spots.” And, in order to fix them, first, you need to realize that they actually exist.

One of them is the different understanding of appreciation. But, there are also a few more.

Here is a short talk by John Gray about the serious misunderstandings between genders in the workplace:

1. Different communication styles

Here, we will start off with an example: If a woman and a man are late for their flight, the woman may talk about how to get there on time, while the man may rush her. As a result, she may feel as if he cut her off. On the other hand, he may feel responsible and eventually proud for getting them to the airport on time.

What women need to understand is that men tend to prioritize their work and their goals. On the other hand, men should realize that women care about goals as well, but they care more about the process of reaching those goals as well.

If we take the example from above, the woman should realize that the man is doing his best to get them to the airport on time. Likewise, the man should show his appreciation for the woman’s efforts to build consensus.

If you are unsure of your communication skills, read these 5 tips to improve your assertive communication.

2. Different ways of expressing emotions

Both men and women are emotional, but they express their emotions differently.

For example, men tend to hide their feelings. On the contrary, women express their emotions freely (even to strangers). When under stress, men will find relief in solitude, whereas women find relief in communicating with others.

So, how can we overcome these different responses to stress and problems?

John Gray advises that men should listen to women’s reactions, ask more questions, and try to come up with a solution together.

One of the most beneficial questions, it seems, that can be asked to a women is, “Can you please help me to understand that better?”

On the other hand, women should realize that men are also concerned, but they simply don’t express their emotions openly – their ‘cave time’ is their time to process emotions.

Men tend to focus more on solving the problem, rather than on his feelings about the problem.

3. Men and women are sometimes insensitive to each other

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned how women tend to complain that men don’t understand them. However, just like men tend to overlook women’s needs to be heard, women also fail to read men’s behavior accurately.

To resolve this issue of perceived insensitivity, both genders must acknowledge their differences and try to understand their different responses to various situations.

Men should try to understand that women will always try to express their emotions and they value when their entire work process is appreciated, not only the outcome.

By contrast, men mostly care mainly about finishing a task and then claiming credit for themselves.


Do you agree that men and women are completely different?

And do you think you know how to understand women in the workplace?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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