Men and women communicate differently.
Of course, personality matters and no two people are the same. But overall, I’ve noticed that these differences between the sexes can have a significant effect on an office’s productivity, cohesiveness and reputation.
Men and women often have different communication styles in three areas:
- Accepting compliments. Pay a man a compliment and he’ll say, “Thank you.” Pay a woman a compliment and she may say, “Don’t thank me. It was a team effort.”
- Receiving criticism. Tell a man he has to work on something and he may say, “No, I don’t.” Tell that to a woman and she’ll say, “How can I improve?”
- Delivering bad news. Ask a man to deliver bad news and he may default to the role of straight shooter, unafraid to be a little harsh. Ask a woman to do the same, and she may dance around the issue, hoping to avoid hurt feelings.
For an office to work as a unified team, everyone needs to communicate clearly and respectfully, regardless of gender. Here’s how we all should be handling these situations.
- Accepting compliments. Say thank you when you receive a compliment. It’s acceptable to mention other’s contributions, but don’t belittle yourself.
- Receiving criticism. Be open to constructive criticism. Being confident is good, but be careful not to appear egocentric. The more willing you are to recognize your flaws – and embrace a little coaching – the better off you’ll be.
- Delivering bad news. Tell the truth, but in a nice way. Don’t be a doormat, but don’t bark orders, either. Learn how to communicate somewhere between these extremes. Be direct, but soften the edges. Foster relationships, but not at the expense of spilling the truth.
You can learn more about healthy office communication at one of my group workshops. These interactive workshops are ideal for managerial or sales teams, office departments and professional groups. My goal is to give your team the precise words to say to better manage challenging situations such as customer complaints, employee conflicts and change initiatives.