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Top Ten Tips for Women in Business Series - Tip Nine

07/17/2013 10:43 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2013

Tip Nine - Appreciate the Differences in Gender Communication

Men and women are different -- who knew?!

One of the mistakes women can make is expecting men to speak, hear, communicate and listen in the same way we do. They don't. They never will. They are not being difficult. They are simply different.

Thank goodness. Life would be very boring indeed if we were all the same. Men and women are different for a reason and we both bring huge amounts of positivity to the work place. Neither is better or worse than the other, we are simply different. And it is with that difference and diversity of approach that organisations will become stronger and more resilient.

Our key as women in business is to celebrate and appreciate men for what they bring to the working environment, but not to try to copy them.

We will always have far more power by being women than we will ever have in trying to behave like men.

It has been proved that EQ (emotional intelligence) is as important in today's leaders as IQ. EQ is what women do naturally and exceptionally well, so we are ideally positioned to be hugely powerful in the working environment, as leaders, as managers of people at any level and in any role that we choose to have. This also means we make exceptionally successful entrepreneurs as we have the capacity and ability to build rapport and relationships with many people easily and effortlessly.

Generally speaking, men hear and respond in bullet points and women hear and respond in paragraphs. This is a sweeping statement, and obviously there are exceptions as well as a sliding scale of both.

But, we are not going to change millions of years of evolution in a couple of generations and men and women have evolved differently. We are, by nature, more of the communicators, negotiators, influencers and harmonisers. Men, by contrast are more verbally aggressive, direct, individual focussed rather than group focussed, and less tolerant.

Men are more likely to process internally and then speak, women are more likely to process and speak at the same time. Therefore, women can appear to talk more than men.

Men tend to remain static when listening, women tend to use their bodies more utilising listening noises, facial expressions and open body language. There is no coincidence that there are far more male poker players than female. Women tend to be more of an open book when in dialogue.

Our brains generally work at a much faster rate than men's, therefore we are able to assimilate lots of information at the same time and make sense of it. Whereby men will prefer to hear one thing at a time with space to process and think through. This can cause all sorts of issues between the sexes! Men think we go off on tangents rather than sticking to the point and we think they need to hurry up and keep with the programme!

So, how does this impact you as a professional woman? Well, never try to copy men, as women we have our own strengths and our power is in stepping into those strengths. By copying men we are disrespecting our femininity and disrespecting masculinity. We don't expect men to behave like women, and equally men don't expect us to behave like them.

The key is in celebrating and respecting each others differences.

In the working world, maintain and utilise your innate female character traits and use them to enhance your impact, but be aware that a move towards male communication styles may work well for you. For instance, in an internal meeting or client meeting, pulling back slightly on the feminine open body language and facial expressions may work in your favour.

When communicating with men in the working world, being aware of how they hear, listen and respond will help you position your conversations in a way that respects both of you. This is particularly key if you are line managing men. The men will need to be line managed in a very different way to women, you will gain more respect and have more authority if you understand their needs and present information and direction in a way that celebrates their communication style.

The final word here is to always respect, honour and celebrate being a woman, this is where we hold our power and influence and, when used correctly in a way that empowers both genders, we become the beacons others wish to follow.