Are you communicating clearly?

Have you ever been in a meeting where you or another female colleague spent an inordinate amount of time debating a topic with a male coworker, only to discover later that they were actually arguing the same point?  They were each simply communicating in a way the other person could not understand.  If this does not sound familiar, consider yourself lucky, because it happens frequently in offices and relationships around the world.

The phrase “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is very true. Genders communicate very differently and in order to have successful business relationships with men, it’s important to learn to communicate in a way that will be clear for both of you. Here are a few tips on how to have this type of clear, easily understandable communication with men in your organization.

For men, action is more important than talking. As women, we equate talking with intimacy and closeness, so when we’re trying to build a relationship with our male colleagues, we may try to get them talking more about their life and career. While they’ll more than likely oblige you, that’s not how men form bonds. From youth, they create friendships through activity and it extends into adulthood. If you want to build good relationships with men, try participating in activities with them. But pick an activity that allows talking to take place. You’ll put them in their comfort zone and still be able to talk to them about work.


Avoid talking about your problems. Unless you’re looking for help finding a solution, try to avoid commiserating about problems at work with male colleagues. Men typically do not talk about their problems unless they are looking for help finding a solution, while women equate sharing problems as a way to establish intimacy. If you absolutely must vent, I find it helpful to actually state that you are not looking for help or a solution, and that you just need to vent for a moment. This takes the pressure off your male colleague to find a solution for your problem.


Be assertive. I know I might be stating the obvious with this tip, but the fact is that when men are talking and giving direction in the workplace, they speak assertively and with authority. They speak their mind and proactively offer suggestions and ideas.  They openly give direction and tell others how to "fix" what's going wrong.  Women have a tendency to hang back and make statements like, "I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not but we could...."  A statement like this will automatically render your idea less than valuable.  Many women also make statements like, "Here's something you might want to try," while most men say, "Here's what you should do."  Consider how you are presenting your ideas.  Are you confident and assertive? Or are you passive and uncertain?


Miscommunication in the workplace happens. It’s an unfortunate side effect of working with more than one person. Above all, try not to take miscommunication too seriously. Remember that sometimes our communication styles are just as confusing to men as their style is to women.

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From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina