Q&A with John Gray, whose newest book "Work With Me" tackles gender relations in the workplace.
What we're also seeing today is people who are working too hard, not having enough time for their family, are getting divorced. And that creates more dissatisfaction in life, and it affects the efficiency of an employee in a company as well. Women are wise enough not to choose that extreme in most cases.
What advice do you have for women who are balancing full-time careers with family lives? Who want to "have it all," so to speak?
You can "have it all." But you can't do it all—you have to learn to delegate. And you can't have it all at the same time. There are stages of life. There's times, for example, when you want to devote more time to your children and you don't have a career. Women should follow their conscience as to what makes them feel good. And if it doesn't feel good to spend less time with your children, then you should spend more time with your children, and that should be your priority.
In many places, to recognize differences between men and women is seen as a crime. It's seen in itself as politically incorrect. The place where this is most common would be Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Finland. There it's seen as politically incorrect to recognize differences between men and women in the workplace. As a result, everything is equal, but women's stress levels are higher than anywhere in the world. That's where women's stress levels at home are four times higher than men's. And in the workplace they're twice as high. So equality is part of the answer, but you can't achieve it through blindness. The truth is we're very different. By appreciating these differences, the workplace becomes more productive and more efficient.
Can lowering workplace stress carry over into women's relationships or marriages?
The Scandinavian study is an indicator that women take that stress home with them. It's often called the "second shift," where a woman finishes one job, and then she comes home and starts another one, except the job at home is more of a domestic-type activity, which, if she had plenty of time to do it, would actually be quite regenerating for her. Women often enjoy cooking, they often enjoy making their homes beautiful, they often enjoy taking care of their children. There's research showing that when women do nurturing activities, that actually lowers their stress level, but only if they're not rushed. When women are doing nurturing activities, it releases a hormone called oxytocin, which lowers stress. It doesn't lower stress in men. That's why we want to create a more nurturing environment in the workplace too—because it lowers women's stress.
When the work life is such that it doesn't promote this nurturing hormone, then when women get home, they're depleted of oxytocin and they use it up nurturing their family, and don't rebuild it because they're rushed. That's the number-one inhibitor of production of oxytocin in the body, is feeling an emergency, like there's not enough time. When for a man actually, feeling rushed can be a stress reducer, in some cases.
The answer for women is not staying at home either. It's a fallacy, a myth. When women stay home, they're isolated from a community. And the more women there are in the workplace, the more women who stay home feel isolated. Keep reading...