The old adage is that men and women come from different planets, and that's why it's hard for them to communicate and understanding each other. The issue begins in the growing-up years. Most little boys grew up playing sports with each other, so they learned to interact with a more active approach. Little girls shared gossip and stories. While this is not true for all men and women, there often are barriers in communication that can create workplace misunderstandings.
Body language is one way in which men and women differ in communication styles. According to Psychologist Susan Sherwood, Ph. D., Women tend to be very expressive. Their wave their hands when they speak, faces are animated, and they tend to draw their bodies in by keeping their arms and legs close with legs crossed. Men appear calm and without emotion. They sprawl out, spread their legs and stretch out. Women seek attention while men prefer to avoid any emotional conflict.
When dealing with workplace issues, women tend to ask questions as a way to gather information. According to John Krause of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Phoenix, Men tend to see constant questioning as criticism. They prefer to give direct, simple answers. They are more concerned with having the right answer and saying the right thing than with the feelings of others. Women see this as a lack of communication, which makes them upset. Men want to jump right in and address the issue. Women want to ask questions first and act later.
Building relationships is a key factor for women to get along with others. Women build relationships in order to get the help they need. Men like to work alone and assume leadership roles. This can be a problem for a man if he does not ask for the help he needs. Men need to learn to collaborate more by joining groups, while women should take more roles of responsibility.
Learning to appreciate the differences in the way men and women listen during conversation is a must. According to Simma Lieberman Associates, diversity consultants and trainers, when men listen they turn slightly away from the speaker and they may scan the room. Women will look one another in the eye and nod in approval. When a man is looking away and scanning the room, women will take this to mean he is not listening. Not everyone communicates in the same way, and not all men or women will display these behaviors. The important thing is for men and women to acknowledge they've heard each other, and to work together toward common goals in spite of their communication style differences.
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