Grey recently made an entrance at a staff meeting with a well-executed cartwheel and a big smile. She’d taken a piece of Halloween candy from a colleague who jokingly asked her to perform a trick for her treat.
“So I did — and it was fun and totally unexpected,” she says. “It wasn’t particularly businesslike, but things don’t always have to be businesslike.”
A very good point. There is a lot to be said for getting to know the men you work with outside the office setting. It can add a welcome feminine touch to business.
Murphy-Baran is married and has two sons. As a function of her job, she frequently comfortably entertains male clients and colleagues. She says she never has had a problem with a business date getting the wrong idea.
“But if you don’t feel comfortable inviting a man for drinks or dinner, there are lots of ways to handle it,” she says. “Bring along a colleague or invite him to bring a colleague. Make it a business date that includes spouses. Make reservations in a restaurant in a highly visible locale or visit a bar near your office. Don’t choose an out-of-the-way place.”
She adds, “I also talk a little about my husband and kids and ask about theirs, too. You often find out you have more in common than just your job. The conversation doesn’t always have to be strictly business to be business.”
Grey agrees. A little socializing can go a long way toward forging bonds with colleagues. “It’s occasionally a good thing to go out with male — and female — colleagues for a drink before heading home,” she says. “Or to invite several colleagues to have lunch together. It puts a different perspective on things and provides another setting for communication.”
That kind of setting just may offer what may be a woman’s best resource in a male-dominated workplace — a mentor.
“I think women make wonderful mentors and are better suited for mentoring than men,” says Grey. “We’re more compassionate and caring and more likely to think about others when making big decisions. And we’re better team players than men, who tend to be loners.”
“Things are different in the business world today,” says Grey. “Back when companies only hired or promoted one woman, the competition was fierce. Now that there are more and better opportunities for women, we can share the wealth, learn from each other and sort of hitchhike along through the business world.”
She adds, “We’re our own advantage in the business world.”