Think Like A Man
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By Beth Levine for Woman's Day
We all know that men and women think differently. But once you move beyond the Mars and Venus stereotypes, you find that the sexes actually have quite a bit they can teach each other—and women don't necessarily have the upper hand. The truth is, we'd do well to take a lesson or two from the guys.
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Don't Worry Obsessively Men don't immediately jump to the worst-case scenario. Women, however, can make the leap in record time, probably because our worry-meter never really resets to zero. "Research shows that at any given time, the rate of generalized anxiety in men is 33 percent," says Holly Hazlett-Stevens, Ph.D., author of Women Who Worry Too Much: How to Stop Worry & Anxiety From Ruining Relationships, Work, & Fun. "In women, it's a whopping 66 percent."
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The next time you find yourself fixating, ask yourself, Is there anything concrete I can do about it? "If the answer is yes, then begin taking those steps," says Hazlett-Stevens. "But if the answer is no, take a hard, honest look at whatever you're worried about. Is your concern realistic or overblown? Forcing yourself to look beyond the worst-case scenario helps you realize that nothing is written in stone."
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Don't Fear Workplace Clashes Research shows that women value protecting relationships more than men do, and this explains why they have a harder time taking disagreements at face value. When it comes to conflicts on the job, guys have a very straightforward point of view: It's just business. "Men get to the underlying issue, while women tend to worry about the interpersonal dynamics," says Sara Laschever, co-author of Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.
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"Recognize that not all on-the-job conflict is bad," advises Emily Amanatullah, Ph.D., assistant professor of management at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, who has conducted studies on gender differences in negotiating. "It can often be very constructive in working through deadlocks. Sometimes you need to rock the boat to be productive."
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Be Happy With Good Enough A recent Auburn University study found that women feel inadequate at home and at work more often than men, because statistically, they're more perfectionist-ic. "Men tend to be risk-takers, so they accept that they may fall flat sometimes," says Steven Rhoads, Ph.D., professor of politics at the University of Virginia and author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously. "Women, however, often only feel good about themselves when every aspect of their lives is going well."
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Even if you're not a natural-born risk-taker like most men are, you can still change a no-fail mindset. The key is to practice being imperfect, suggests Roz Shafran, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Reading, U.K., and co-author of Overcoming Perfectionism. Intentionally let something go—like allowing the laundry to pile up for an extra day—and see what happens next. It might not be as bad as you think.
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Don't Nitpick Your Looks What men want in a woman and what women want in a man drive the way both sexes view themselves. "Women are more likely to find status and resources attractive in a mate, while men look for youth and beauty," says Jean Twenge, Ph.D., co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic. Guys don't feel the same pressure we do to look good. Sure, that bald spot or paunch may annoy him, but it doesn't define who he is.
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When Twenge conducted studies on how we think about our body, she found that guys focus on its capabilities. Do the same: Tick off 10 awesome things your body can do. Have kids? Check. Hold the hardest yoga pose? Check. You get the picture. Appreciating your physical abilities may not stop you from having a few I look fat days, but it will help you put them into a more healthy perspective.
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Ask For What You Want Why can a man march right in and ask for a raise while you freak out at the mere thought? Because being pushy goes against most women's instincts. "From a young age, girls are taught to be compliant and not too demanding," explains Laschever. So when we grow older, not only are we uncomfortable asking for things for ourselves, but we also don't have the experience or the skills to do it in an effective way.
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Ask a woman to drum up donations for a good cause or to push her child's school to get her kid extra help, and suddenly she can negotiate with the best of them. The difference, according to Amanatullah's extensive research, is that she's acting on someone else's behalf, not her own. Use that talent for advocacy to push for a raise, a promotion or anything else you want. Ask yourself, If this were my sister or best friend, how would I present her case?
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