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How Men And Women Communicate At Work

Men and women communicate differently. They may use the same words, but they place different connotations and emotional emphasis on them. This gender difference often leads to misunderstanding and can unintentionally hurt each otherís feelings. In order to develop harmonious work relations between sexes, each gender must first understand where all this miscommunication stems from.

One of the major differences in how men and women communicate is in their emphasis on task vs. relationship. Men primarily are task-oriented. They communicate to convey information, to solve a problem or to get things done. They use fewer words to get to the point and appear more competent to other men. Each point is essential and in a linear sequence to form a logical conclusion. This quality presents men to women as impersonal and insensitive, thus risking losing the trust of women in working with them.

Women, on the other hand, communicate to build and maintain relationships, and also as a means to generate and share creative ideas. They need to talk about the job before working, to feel assured they have the facts right before assuming responsibility. This quality presents women to men as incapable of doing the job right, thus risking losing the respect of men in the course of working together.

John Gray, the author of Mars and Venus in the Workplace, has identified four reasons why women talk. Men have only one reason and that is to convey content. This places the burden on them to adjust to how women communicate. The following are the four reasons:

1. Talking to make a point: In this regard both sexes agree. However, women use talking to convey more than facts, figures and logical derivations.

2. Talking to give and receive emotional support: Women often use language to inform each other of their emotional state, similar to an FYI note. They do not expect anything to be done about it, or that someone should be blamed for it. As a result the degree of rapport and trust is increased, and stress is minimized.

3. Talking to relieve tension: Women talk to relieve normal stress and job pressures, and also to share ideas on how to manage stress. Men, on the other hand, internally strategize how to manage stress and gain more confidence.

4. Talking to discover a point: Men generally know what they are going to say before they speak, but a woman may just begin talking and gradually discover what she has to say. Actually, most creative people, either male or female, work this way. They start vaguely on something, and later develop focus on a certain point of expression. Men, however, lose patience with this roundabout way of getting to the point.

Gray also gave suggestions on what men can do to earn the trust of women and create a more harmonious work atmosphere. He emphasized actively listening to what women were saying and not saying. Listen to their tone of voice, look at the way they move their hands and body, and think of what they really meant. Demonstrate whenever and wherever possible the message that you care, understand and respect. A simple statement that shows you relate to her emotional state helps.

About the Author:

Claire BretaŮa is an AB Psychology Graduate and the current webmistress of, a job listing site offering equal employment opportunities for minority groups who needed representation in the workplace.



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