Differences between the way women and men communicate and perceive the world not only sometimes irritate us in personal relationships, they can block professional success. How many of the following common gender communication differences have ever made you or one of your direct reports want to scream, scratch your head in disbelief or quit your job?
A woman wants to build solid relationships with team members so people will work well together and accomplish a task more successfully. When a male co-worker criticizes her approach, she explains, “My style actually saves time. Team members who understand each other know who’s best suited for each task.”
A man who wants to get right to work resists “wasting valuable time we could use to get things done.” He’s confident that effective work relationships form naturally during phases of working together. His brow is deeply furrowed and his jaw clenched while he watches the clock tick.
A man passionate about his point of view makes sweeping gestures with his hands and raises his voice to emphasize his opinion. Some of the women who are listening complain to each other later, “He’s so pushy! He has to be the authority on everything! He never listens!”
A woman in a key leadership position has a goal to lead by consensus, “It’s sometimes a slower process at first, but people bond and respect each other. The ultimate products are always superior to what is created with top-down management techniques.” A man assigned to her group criticizes her, “If she didn’t feel insecure, she would take charge, assign people tasks, manage the process and we could go home.”
A man doesn’t understand why he failed to engage a group of female employees when he shared his excitement about a product that “will literally wipe out the competition.” Two women complain to each other later, “We’re not a football team and we don’t have to kill people just to sell products!”
A woman is puzzled because a group of men she made a presentation to didn’t ask questions. She wonders if they really grasped what she wants them to do next or are resisting their assignments. A man with fewer qualifications than hers wins the next promotion because “the guys identify with him.”
Of course, these are only a few examples of how we irritate each other. We also waste personal energy and other valuable resources when we criticize each other’s unique styles. Sometimes we self-sabotage because we fail to gain each other’s respect and trust.
Would you like to understand why we unintentionally frustrate each other and learn how to use the innate differences between men and women to your advantage? Your journey begins with understanding how our hard-wiring and social conditioning create many of our communication and other difficulties.
Since we cannot rewire the brain structure or childhood of other adults in our lives, it’s our job (and can become our joy) to build a bridge connecting “them” and “us”. We can eventually create a highly productive, loving and supportive “we” that makes our hearts happy at home and at work.
See the “Difficult Conversations and Difficult People” video on this website. It’s the first in a series of videos designed to help you overcome the gender divide that frustrates men and women around the globe.
Enjoy well-tested tips that will help you decrease unproductive conflicts and create the support network you need. It’s essential for you to understand gender-based communication barriers and conflict prevention and resolution strategies so you can:
Create a healthier personal support network based on open communication and clear agreements.
Achieve your professional goals, including recognition for your accomplishments, salary increases, promotions and gender equality that will elevate your leadership opportunities.
Equipped with new insights and proven strategies, you can immediately begin to transform difficult people into allies so you can create powerful partnerships.