Men and women in business can be equal in almost every way: position, expertise, experiences, educational background etc. Despite these similarities, they can be very different in one critical area: the way in which they communicate. The differences in male and female communication styles can result in misunderstandings. Based on professor Deborah Tanner in the Washington Post article, “Sex, Lies and Conversation; Why Is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?”, male and female have difficulties communicating in workplace. Try to understand others’ communication style to reduce conflicts.
1. Giving Orders
Men and women often differ in the way they give orders. Many women are conditioned by the culture of maintaining harmony in relationships. Several well-respected studies have shown that women tend to soften their demands and statements, on the contrary, men tend to be more direct in their statements.
2. Emotions and Information
Women prefer connecting through conversation, while men prefer connecting through action. Based on “Psychology Today – Men, Women, Emotions and Communication”, when a woman wants to talk, she wants to share her emotions and thoughts to others, while a man tends to share his ideas and suggestions and avoids talking about his feeling. Take note that this doesn’t mean that men won’t talk about their feelings, but they might be uncomfortable while doing so.
3. Communication Pattern
Women and men have different conversations patterns. Women tend to punctuate the conversation with affirmative noises, for instance, “Uh huh” and “OK” to let you know she is concentrating and listening. On the other hand, men prefer to sit quietly and focus on what is being said. As a result, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t agree on what you are saying. So, when talking to a guy, don’t feel nervous or weird when he is not giving responses to you.
4. Asking Questions
Another difference often seen between men and women is the latter generally ask more questions than the former. Asking questions means different things to men and women. The differences in how and when questions are asked can create real confusion in the workplace. Men ask questions for one purpose only – to gather information. But for women, asking questions serves for two purposes – to gather information as well as asking questions which they already know the answers. But why are they asking things that they already know? As mentioned above, women wish to maintain harmony in relationships, they want to show interest in what others have said to cultivate relationships. Therefore, you tend to see women asking more questions in business.
There is nothing wrong with different communication styles among men and women in workplace. However, the problem arises when the above mentioned differences lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, which can ultimately disrupt the harmony and the teamwork within a company. We hope this can help you to reduce conflicts in workplace.