Connecting, Man Style…

How many times in the past year have you found yourself thinking ‘This isn’t the way it was supposed to go’? This unemployment thing has taken us by surprise. Not only the layoffs and cutbacks but also the length of time it’s taking to find that next job. And to make matters worse, the salaries out there have, in many, many cases been cut as well. So, no, this isn’t the way it was supposed to go. Especially if you’ve done everything you were supposed to do. Education, played well with others, learned the ins and outs of your industry.

For men this has been a particularly tough time. I work with a lot of men and for them it’s particularly difficult to talk with others about what they are looking for in this next go round. Forget about talking about the disappointment and resentment that this downturn has created, we know that’s rough to do. Reaching out to that network isn’t easy. Jeffrey Zaslow, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, wrote about the way men do friendship. They don’t sit around commiserating with their buds about their unemployment, issues at home, etc…they’ll quietly deal with their problems over sharing their pain.

I’m glad that I can be a sounding board for this tough stuff. I’ve heard my clients and their unease about ‘asking for something’ from friends when we talk about networking. To that I have successfully helped my male (and female) clients remember that relationships made through work are important for next moves. Everyone relies on their contacts. And, of course, how we express what’s happening in our world matters. When my clients focus their attention on getting grounded in their knowledge of what they have to offer, their accomplishments and wins, they DO have strong, level headed conversations with others who DO support them mano a mano. Getting past the undermining inner argument about having such a conversation is the tough part. But come on, this is a new kind of ‘tough’. Let those man friends in — play ball, bike ride, surf, argue politics and then let those guys know that life change is afoot and see how they can step up for you, man to man.