Anyone who has read John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, understands that some of the same communication challenges men and women face in their personal relationships can also be struggles brought to the forefront in an office environment. Understanding what is at the root of these challenges in the workplace can help open up lines of communication and result in a more productive work setting. Here are a few ways we can review the physiological barriers that influence the way men and women communicate:
There are two sides of the brain, the left-brain and the right brain. The left-brain houses more of the logical, factual and aggressive centers of thought. The right side of the brain harbors feelings, imagination, and communication skills. It’s not impossible to maintain a working relationship with the opposite sex, but problems can arise when we have expectations about the way others should think, feel or act.
Women have four times more cells connecting the right and left side of their brain. Therefore, women are able to use both sides of their brains simultaneously and tend to be more supportive, collaborative, and value love, communication and beauty.
Men use one side of their brain at a time because they don’t have the additional cells connecting both sides. Men rely heavily on their left brain to solve a problem one step at a time and therefore have the single-minded drive to accomplish tasks.
Creating a better connection between opposite sexes at work does not mean that either one needs to change or conform to the other. That said, in order to improve communication and have a more balanced and productive work environment, it is critical that everyone work harder to understand and respect different working styles and ways of thinking.
Oftentimes, breakdowns in communication or gender-related disputes are mistaken for what really may be an individual’s resistance to feedback, an overestimation of their talents and accomplishments, or just poor listening skills.
Additionally, being an effective communicator has a lot to do with good etiquette. Regardless of your feelings for an individual or their communication style, stick to good conversation etiquette that is much like playing a game of catch – meaning after you share a thought, you should toss the “ball” of conversation to the other person to respond.
Understanding that each person has a unique style of communication can make you more aware of your own personal style. Listen to the way you interact with others and evaluate your words, tone and body language. Compare your style with individuals whom you believe to be effective communicators. Self-evaluation is an important first step to improve gender communication barriers in the workplace.
What challenges do you or your team face when implementing effective communication strategies?