Gender Communication in the Workplace

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June 14, 2006
by Simma Lieberman

What can your organization do to create more equality for men and women? The first step to creating equality is understanding the different strengths and styles that different genders bring to the work table. Oftentimes men and women use different processes for decision making and leadership. Here are some common ways that men and women differ: 1. Attitude towards tasks vs. relationships. Women tend to be more relationship oriented and accomplish tasks by building relationships first. They then know who to ask and are comfortable asking others to get things done. Men tend to be more task oriented and go straight to the task. They build their relationships when they are in the task or project. 2. Way of Processing Information. When women have to make a decision they will often process and look at options out loud while men tend to process internally until they come up with a solution. Women often think that the man is being unresponsive to suggestions because of this and men often think that women are looking for approval when they process out loud or don't know what they are doing. Some men think that a woman's way of processing is a sign of weakness. 3. Leadership Style. Because women are more relationship oriented, they tend to lead by consensus. Men tend to be more hierarchical and include only the people closest to them at their level in the decision making process when they think it is necessary. 4. Communication Styles. In non-verbal behavior women will nod their head to show that they are listening. Men leave the conversation thinking that a head nod means agreement and will be surprised to find out that the woman didn't agree at all. When a woman is speaking to a man and he does not say anything and stays in neutral body language to show that he is listening, a woman will interpret that as the man being bored or not understanding what she is saying. This can lead the...
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