This is Kai writing from Toronto, Canada.
I am a male, currently in a confrontational struggle at work. I just transitioned to a new position in another team in the same company, but I am finding it really hard to get along with the three managers and one director above me, who are all women.
I just cannot stand the way they’re talking to me, even my wife never talked to me like that. I feel anger and I sometimes argue with them. It may be my personality, but I am just tired of working for women who are so demanding, rushed and worried all the time. I am perfectly fine working with women or with women working for me.
I like this company since I have been here six years. I am not sure if I should change my job or stay. I am not happy working in this job, I have no passion at all.
I appreciate your time.
From your letter we can’t tell which of the following scenarios is closest to the truth:
- Your female bosses are difficult and unpleasant employers, possibly with a prejudice against men that reveals itself in how they interact with you.
- You are uncomfortable with serving under the leadership of women and are becoming a difficult and unpleasant employee.
- The truth lies somewhere in between.
Although it is wildly unpopular in today’s culture, there is a little-known fact which might make you feel better although it is not of much practical help. This controversial fact is that it is perfectly normal and perfectly natural for a man to feel uncomfortable being issued directions by a woman. In many cultures, men have been indoctrinated to believe that this feeling is a primitive throwback to tribal ancestry and that it must be firmly suppressed. Nonetheless, it is real and will undoubtedly eventually create serious problems in the modern military and in other hierarchies in which women occupy high rank. It is possible that this lies at the root of your unhappiness but, as we say, it is irrelevant. You are going to have to find a way to function or your employment there must surely terminate.
If your bosses are not asking you to do something inappropriate and are not speaking to you in a way that goes against company policy, we don’t see that you have any recourse. We assume that requesting to transfer back to your previous position is not viable. What we can say is that the status quo isn’t working.
As we see it, your only option is to change your reaction or change your job. As we are sure you have learned in other areas of your life, you cannot change others, you can only change yourself. If something doesn’t change, you may not have the luxury of deciding whether or not to seek a new job as you will be demoted or let go. If you are fired, you will be in a poorer position to find a new job than if you proactively search for one while still working.
While it is somewhat possible that the only reason these women are in their position is because the company needed to show women in management, that isn’t very likely. There is probably a great deal you can learn from them if you allow yourself to do so. What can you admire about their skill set? Focus on that rather than on the style that upsets you. Not only will you get a feeling of satisfaction at attaining new skills, but you will be more employable should you decide to search for work elsewhere.
Kai, we would encourage you to broaden your self-analysis. Anger is a common and an understandable reaction when we face disagreeable situations. However, it isn’t a very effective response and usually backfires. Walking into work each day expecting to spend the day full of resentment leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is it possible that you are dissatisfied in other areas of your life and that is making your work interactions more toxic? We were perturbed by your statement that they speak to you in a way that “even” your wife doesn’t. Are you accustomed to a lack of respect from your wife? Do you treat your wife with respect? Would it be useful in general for you to learn some new techniques for dealing with difficult situations?
Having worked successfully in this company for six years, this must be a frustrating and disappointing experience. It is up to you to adjust and make it work in the best way possible.
Wishing you future joy in work,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
Thou Shall Prosper & Business Secrets from the Bible
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