January 9, 2016
It can be hard to relate to colleagues when you simply have nothing in common or don’t understand where they are coming from. Effective communication is key in a working environment, unfortunately gender based miscommunication is an area which often needs work.
This common issue is something I like to call “Talking to Aliens” and addresses the misunderstanding between male and female styles in the workplace. It is important to note that not all women have a female style of communication and not all men have a male style.
Although we have come along way in recent years in terms of gender equality, I believe we still have room for improvement, particularly in Corporate Australia. The first step is to remember that women are equal but different to men. Both genders contribute in very different ways, there is no right or wrong.
Understanding the key styles for each gender is significant to moving forward and overcoming gender barriers in communication. In her book ‘Gender Games’, Candy Tymson describes the following things to look for:
|Male Style||Female Style|
|Focus on information||Focus on relationship|
|Report style of speaking||Rapport style of speaking|
|Goal driven||Process oriented|
|Single task approach||Multi-tasking approach|
|Succinct language||Storytelling style of speech|
|Working towards a destination||On a journey|
|Need to know the answers||Want to ask the right questions|
The important thing to remember is to be aware of the style of the person you are talking to and address them accordingly. We need to get to know our work mates on a more personal level, instead of a gender-only perspective. This way we can eliminate stereotypes once and for all.
Humans are designed to fear what they do not understand. Most men do not really understand women, therefore, as much as they may not want to admit it, there is a fear-factor that modifies most male / female relationships.
A simple example… Men often think that women want solutions from them, whenthey discuss issues, whereas women generally problem-solve themselves, as they are talking them through.
Men often underestimate their female colleague’s abilities and the responsibility for this can be shared by both genders. Woman need to start speaking up about the things that are important, and sell themselves and their abilities better. When women are given praise they need to learn to believe it and accept it, rather than downplay or minimise the comments.
Men stand up and ask for, or demand, opportunities. While women often hold back and hope their good work will get them noticed. Frankly, if great performance were enough to get women to the top, then there would be a higher percentage of women in senior management and in the boardroom.
Gender barriers can be difficult to work through but it is important to realise and understand when its happening. Together males and females can counteract this age old barrier and continue on to complete equity.
Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.
Contact Kellie Mills on firstname.lastname@example.org