By Joan Runnheim Olson
I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Andrea Jones, a coach and trainer for Menglish Gender Communication (http://www.menglish.com). Andrea and I talked about gender differences in the workplace and how women and men can work together more effectively.
What leads to communication differences between the genders?
Women and men are wired differently. Some of the differences are innate, whereas culture and upbringing play a role also. These differences show up in every area of their lives, including work.
How do gender differences show up in the workplace?
Men are hierarchical and women are flat-structured. Women build relationships; men are task-oriented. Women will build relationships and then they can effectively work on a task. Men are competitive; they do the task and then build relationships. Men are fact-based and women focus on the details. When women are in a meeting, they will read body language and read between the lines. Men like to get to the facts.
How can this impact their success?
In business, a woman may lose a deal due to getting side-tracked because she’s focused on body language and reading between the lines. A man may lose a deal because he’s too intent on delivering the facts and can’t read body language and read between the lines. A woman can be perceived as not right for a promotion to a male boss because she likes to ask lots of questions and get opinions from others. Where a woman’s competitiveness shows up is when a female colleague receives a promotion. She can be excited about a fellow female’s promotion, as long as it’s to a different department.
How can the genders work more effectively at work?
Co-ed teams at work outperform single gender teams. Both men and women possess positive character traits which are valuable. A woman doesn’t need to be like a man and a man doesn’t need to behave like a woman. However, they do need aware of how to adapt. For example, if you’re working with or report to the opposite gender, learn how they think.