Don’t ignore gender’s impact on communication
by Amy Beth Miller, editor, Communication Briefings
Men and women might as well be speaking different languages, not in words but in their communication styles. Those differences can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.
Not everyone exhibits the communication habits associated with their gender, of course, but those habits are prevalent enough that you should be aware of the tendencies of both your gender and the other.
Here are some examples of the misinterpretations that can happen between men and women:
- A woman telling a story may not be beating around the bush or wasting time. Instead, she may be laying the groundwork for her point, thinking aloud or attempting to build rapport.
- A man who is silent may not be disengaged from the conversation. Instead, he may be thinking things through before speaking.
- A man who makes a decision without consulting you may not be shutting you out. He simply may not have the collaborative style that women tend to exhibit.
- A man who leans back while you are speaking may not be tuning out. On the contrary, he may be listening intently.
- A woman who nods her head while you speak may not agree. She may just be showing that she is listening.
- A woman who offers help or advice may not think that you’re incapable of handling the situation yourself. A man who doesn’t ask for help or advice may be afraid that it would show weakness to do so.
The styles of both genders have advantages and disadvantages. For example, men could benefit from learning how to better recognize social cues, while women could strengthen their positions by coming to the point quickly.
To communicate effectively, recognize your own tendencies and what might be more effective in certain situations, particularly if you are dealing with people of the opposite gender. Also view other’s actions through the perspective of how their gender tends to communicate, so you don’t misinterpret their intentions or abilities. When in doubt, ask directly what the person meant or intended.
Last month’s poll
All the readers who responded to last month’s poll said their team members are diverse in age. However, only 29% said their teams are racially diverse and 43% said the teams have gender diversity.
One reader wrote in that the team has diversity in knowledge. That’s an important factor to consider when you build a team.
C3: Clear Concise Communication
With an effective communication strategy, your team can excel. You and your employees can work together to reach—and even exceed—your goals. And people can be happy at work. C3: Clear Concise Communication presents you with that strategy. With it, you will learn how to communicate in a direct manner—across all channels—to get the results you want while avoiding communication pitfalls that can wreak havoc in the workplace.
This multimedia resource includes the following:
- The 17-minute videoAm I Making Myself Clear? Get Your Point Across Whenever You Communicate, with a companion Trainer’s Guide and Viewer’s Guide.
- The 60-minute audio conference presentation Screw the Elephants in the Room: Straight Talk in the Workplace.
- A 66-page workbook stuffed full of best practices, guides, tips, quizzes and more.
- A Customizable, Print-Ready Forms CD that trainers and trainees can reference again and again.
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