Otherwise known as…
Things you hear when you run a remodeling company with women.
Meetings at Fair & Square Remodeling are different than most remodeling companies in town. All the key people in the company are women. Company meetings consist of seven women and yours truly. Now I have to admit I can be a typical male. I generally don’t remember what my wife tells me five minutes after she gets done telling me it. I need to have my kids’ birthdays and wedding anniversary on my calendar so I don’t forget which days they are. I also have a honey-do list that never seems to get done.
I have also learned a lot about working with women and thought I would share these observations with you.
For example, I would never in a million years think to compare someone’s existing space to their old comfortable bra. That is just the conversation I found myself in this spring when I was looking at renovating a living room and dining room. This woman had owned the house for 30 years. She wanted to make a change to her house and I think she was trying to work through how she felt about the change.
She claimed her existing space was like an old, comfortable bra.
What am I supposed to say to this?
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean,” doesn’t really sound appropriate. Talking about an old, comfortable bra is not a conversation I can get into after meeting someone for the first time for an hour. I mean, I won’t even go into Victoria’s Secret to shop for my wife because I think the salespeople will think I am a pervert.
Then this morning we are at our weekly project manager meeting and the woman who is in charge of developing our processes and systems didn’t have some part of a system done that we thought would be done. So she looks at Sarah* and says, “Don’t glare at me like that or I will cry.” I guess she spent a lot of time working on the project the night before. Again, what is the appropriate thing to say in a situation like this? “Hey, there is no crying in remodeling,” seems a bit insensitive. On the other hand, “Quit glaring at Ellen*,” seems to be a bit accusatory. *Names changed so I don’t get in trouble.
There are some things that are not confusing though. For example, being around so many women has taught me good interpersonal skills. It took a long time for me to catch on to the proper greeting when you meet with women. As you approach a woman, it is appropriate to say things like “Oh, hi Mickey. Hey, I love what you’ve done with your (hair, eyeglasses, jewelry, or shoes).”
For guys out there reading this, I am serious – you have to try this. I think it is a rapport builder or something. I even tried it out on my wife and it worked there, too. (Hint: you have to do this on a few occasions when you are not it trouble with your wife. If you move right into this when you are in trouble, it doesn’t work so well.) Remember to stay focused. Blurting out, “Oh, hi. Your bra looks old and comfortable,” will not get the intended results.
Women also tend to be caregivers and want to take care of people. Both of my project managers are women and, of course, they are nurturing and caring. This also leads to strange conversations at times. I may hear something like, “I don’t think the plumber feels right about this.” (Feelings are important.) My first thought is, “I really don’t care how he feels about it, I just need it done.” Now, that would not be a sensitive approach to the situation and if I am going to be a good leader, I need to be sensitive. So, I usually ask a series of questions like, “What do you think the plumber would need to make him feel better about this?”
In the end, I know where I am going with this. The plumber is going to do what I need him to do or give me a solid reason why he can’t. It just takes a bit longer to get to that point but when we get there everyone feels good – except me, I feel impatient.
I do have a great team though; I find that women tend to think of the little things that most men wouldn’t consider when they are in someone’s home. I also think women are awesome at communication and at the end of the day, even if we have done the most beautiful renovation project for someone, if the vision and the process was not communicated well, there will likely be some less than happy clients
For more information on remodeling, visit Reflections in Remodeling on our blog.