Women Working With Men

Women’s Leadership Advice For Women Working With Men


C)2015 Pegine Echevarria, MSW, CSP

Years ago I knew I had to gain a critical skill. I had to be great at this skill or else I would never be able to succeed in my world. The skill? Knowing how to work with men. Not just knowing, but learning how to be the most effective communicator with men I could be. I had to learn how to inspire, motivate, delegate, lead and be led by men. I knew that I had to gain this skill so that we were all on the same team, moving towards success.

My goal was to be respected, supported and to engage with men in a way that our strengths unified for mission success. I wanted to deliver a message with such clarity, that men understood that I heard them and respected who they were, and in turn I was respected, heard and understood.

The path was not easy. The path I chose didn’t come with rewards at every turn. However, the rewards were worth the journey.

I’ve had my share of inappropriate experiences, frustrating, hair pulling, angry moments. I learned that I how I dealt with those experiences would enable me to be even more powerful, confident, strong and effective. I mastered my influence, my message, my communication and my persona.

My success with working with men resulted in great friendships, great business opportunities, great mentors and sponsors. The higher up you go you will find women working with men. those at the highest ranks are skilled  women working with men.  We now have many women who are working with men, to succeed they had to learn and for you to succeed you have to learn.

Some of the steps I took to be skilled in working with men included:

1- Seeking opportunities to speak to male dominated groups. I wanted to immerse myself to understand how to use my voice, humor, body and language to be heard and respected. If the group was all male I wanted to speak to them. Being comfortable speaking to male dominated groups is part of the process of being effective.

2- I went to comedy clubs and performed at open night mic nights. I also attended Saturday workshops in dark comedy clubs where the guys (99.9 percent of the time I was the only female) tried their material and then worked hard on their comedy routines. It was a gift to me that was priceless. If you can’t handle cursing, don’t go. Learning to laugh and be humorous is critical.

3- I read books on men and boys. Having a son drove my desire to to learn even more about them. I studied and connected with male experts like Michael Gurianauthor of THE WONDER OF BOYS. Understanding how they think, how they play, how they interact and learn is key to engaging men.

4- I have spent countless hours working with men in the military, manufacturing and in leadership. My company provides training on recruiting, leadership and cultural and gender negotiations to all branches of the military and the federal government along with my corporate work. In fact monthly my company trained 2,000 officers during our situational training exercise on cultural negotiations. The trainings included my team of fifty (primarily male) role players, creating 12 villages over two days every other month. 90% of the officers who participated were male. Understanding how male dominated organizations have created structure, systems and processes to build camaraderie, effective team interaction, mission focus, plus order and structure for leadership. It is key that women understand ‘the why’ behind these organizational structures and why men thrive in these environments.

5- Studied the diversity among white men and how organizations and individuals often have bias against these men. Most people don’t take the time to discover their uniqueness, history or experiences. The licensed program I created called “White Guys Are Diverse Too(tm)” was presented to all branches of the military, Rockwell Collins, Sodexo, Blue Cross Blue Shield Florida among others. It lead to me being invited to testify in front of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission on the diversity among white guys and why it matters to us all. Here is the commission’s final report.

The privilege to speak to men, in many different industries, along with the opportunity for them to ask me questions and share their thoughts led me to share some of my perspectives and lessons learned. In the future I’ll add more. .

Here are two tips men want women to know about working with them.

1. Speak at a lower octave.

It takes practice. High pitched voices are difficult for men to hear. Remember we evolved from a time when our survival was depended on hunter and gather structures. Men had to hear a low pitched, rumbling growl which meant danger of life or death for them and others. They had to hear low, deep sounds and the voices of other men it is how they hunted and survived. Women evolved to hear the higher pitched sounds of each others voices, along with the screams of children and babies to know when when they were in danger or hurt. It is how humanity survived. Men spoke in deeper voices and guttural sounds so they can intimidate dangerous animals with their booming voices. Women spoke in higher voices so that they can coo a child or family into a calm state. It is evolution and not a debate. Men hear better when your speech tone is a lower octave. Listen to Angelina Jolie’s voice orOscar-nominated,Tony-winning actress Viola Davis.

2. Short, direct and focused sentences and directives.

The stories, detailed explanations of ‘why’ are not needed. Just tell them what you want and how you want it. Be specific. Frustrations run high among men when women add long explanations, reasoning and emotion. Just tell be direct, and tell them what you want and how you want it. Men can’t read your mind. I meet women who are surprised (and frustrated) when men give them a piece of work which isn’t what they expected or wanted. The women mutter and then do the work themselves,because, she feels it is her reputation on the line. She didn’t take into account what she just communicated to the men on her team, which was, that they are inept and not competent, even though it was her leadership communication that caused the issue. She didn’t understand how men see team work, which is ‘we are in this together, I got your back‘. If you are getting frustrated, analyze how you communicated the level of detail that you wanted. Was there some mind reading expectations going on? You might want to read my article  called “Women’s Leadership Advice: Imaginary Mind Reading Sucks

What Men At Work Wish You Knew – A Women’s Guide to Men at Work”matters.

You can read my follow up article on women working with men by clicking here.


Share some of your tips, insights and comments below. We can all be a resource to each other.

Comment Below.


If you are curious about how to work more effectively with men at work, consider bringing me into your organization. .

If you are a leadership conference planners and committees interested in this program should know that during the program I’ll be sharing the following:


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(c) 2015 Pegine Echevarria

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Posted in Inspiration on February 18, 2015 by admin.
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