Often, individuals from opposite genders fail to understand communications conveyed by one another. Even in the modern workplace, misunderstandings and misinterpretations are still rife between the two genders. This can lead to conflict, lack of cohesion, or enmity in some cases. As an organization, it is key to take note of the different communication styles used by men and women to create a conducive workplace. Environments that are comfortable for both genders enhance cooperation and general productivity. Below are the differences in communication styles between women and men.
Relationships Versus Tasks
Men are generally more task-oriented than women. They prefer to give a hands-on approach to projects and work activities. Men tend to build relationships as they work on the project. Women, on the other hand, are relationship-oriented. They give preference to first creating relationships with colleagues before they begin a task. As such, they get to know who is who, and whom to ask in case of doubt. Women are also comfortable with asking what they do not know. Men are not very comfortable with constantly asking questions.
While processing facts and information, women prefer to seek various options and opinions verbally through consultation. However, men, in most cases, handle different kinds of information internally. This is one area that causes misunderstandings between men and women. Some men might perceive that when a woman is verbally seeking options, she is simply courting attention or does not understand her task. Whereas women might believe that a man is uncooperative.
Women are generally consensus-oriented in their leadership strategies. They tend to listen more to others’ opinions and ask for feedback. For example, after purchasing a custom writing service, female students might tend to seek more complicit explanations for things they do not understand. Men, on the other hand, are more hierarchical in their leadership strategy. In most cases, they prefer to only consult with a small group of people whom they believe to be of a similar caliber if it is necessary.
Likewise, there are stereotypes among men that prevent the majority of women from rising to the top. Some of them can be summed up as follows:
- The hierarchical leadership style is the most effective.
- That women are generally not strategic, and therefore unfit for top leadership.
- Male leaders married to women who work at home experience difficulty in perceiving women as suitable leaders of an organization. As such, they do not give big considerations to women aiming for top positions.
- A general assumption that most women do not intend to stay in the workforce permanently. That they are working for the short-term, and will probably take some time off to raise their children.
In terms of non-verbal communication, women tend to nod their heads as a sign that they are listening. Sometimes men get surprised that women disagree with them, yet the women were nodding all along. For men, nodding is a sign of agreement. While listening, men do not make anybody’s movements. So a woman might perceive that the man is inattentive or bored. As such, the woman might repeat herself multiple times.
What’s more, a man might feel that a woman is talking too much or has some insecurities. As a result, a man might think that such a woman is not fit for leadership. Women tend to make more eye contact during conversations and prefer to approach people from the front. Some men might feel challenged by such behavior. Men generally believe that excessive eye contact is too personal.
While approaching, men prefer to come from the back or sideways. They also tend to stand or sit similarly while conversing. Women might perceive someone who prefers talking side to side as not being honest or upfront.
Men still take the lion’s share of conversation time and space in most organizations. Women, however, might try to achieve more equality within the room, though some studies contradict this claim. It is also said that men interrupt women a lot more than women interrupt them. Likewise, men generally talk over women to a greater extent. All these behaviors can result in miscommunications between the two genders during non-verbal communication. Misunderstandings can lead to a loss in team cohesiveness and a breakdown in communication. This can tremendously hamper productivity.
Lastly, to ensure that women and men understand each other, it is important to enlighten them on intersexual communication differences and sensitize people against gender stereotypes. People should also be made to recognize different styles of leadership and communication.