Gender Communication Differences & Strategies
Gender Communication Differences & Strategies
June 14, 2006
by Simma Lieberman
What can your organization do to create more equality for men and women? The first step to creating equality is understanding the different strengths and styles that different genders bring to the work table. Oftentimes men and women use different processes for decision making and leadership. Here are some common ways that men and women differ:

1. Attitude towards tasks vs. relationships. Women tend to be more relationship oriented and accomplish tasks by building relationships first. They then know who to ask and are comfortable asking others to get things done. Men tend to be more task oriented and go straight to the task. They build their relationships when they are in the task or project.

2. Way of Processing Information. When women have to make a decision they will often process and look at options out loud while men tend to process internally until they come up with a solution. Women often think that the man is being unresponsive to suggestions because of this and men often think that women are looking for approval when they process out loud or dont know what they are doing. Some men think that a womans way of processing is a sign of weakness.

3. Leadership Style. Because women are more relationship oriented, they tend to lead by consensus. Men tend to be more hierarchical and include only the people closest to them at their level in the decision making process when they think it is necessary.

4. Communication Styles. In non-verbal behavior women will nod their head to show that they are listening. Men leave the conversation thinking that a head nod means agreement and will be surprised to find out that the woman didnt agree at all. When a woman is speaking to a man and he does not say anything and stays in neutral body language to show that he is listening, a woman will interpret that as the man being bored or not understanding what she is saying. This can lead the woman to become very uncomfortable and repeat what she is saying or ask the man each time if he understands what she is saying. The man then interprets that as insecurity, or talking to much and which then lead him to think she is not assertive or confident to be a leader. Women will actually use more direct eye contact in conversation to create relationship and connection while many men take that as a challenge to their power or position. Women will also approach a man from the front while men often approach from the side at an angle, which is how each of them tends to stand or sit when talking to others. Men interpret the face to face as too personal, or aggressive and women will interpret the talking side to side as though he is not being upfront or even hiding something from her.

5. Talk time. Men take up more time and space at meetings, while women try to make sure there is more equality in the room. Despite stereotypes to the contrary studies have shown that men talk more then women. Men interrupt women and talk over them much more that women interrupt men. All of this can lead to the type of miscommunication based on assumptions of why member of the other sex are using certain verbal and non-verbal behaviors. These miscommunications can result in team breakdown, people not listening to each other and loss of good ideas.

How different styles lead to workplace disparity
While most women are in the workforce full time, there is still bias amongst certain men in leadership roles that stop women from moving ahead. This bias can include the following ideas:

1. That there is only one style or way to lead and that is the more hierarchical one.
2. That most women cant be leaders because they are

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Men And Women. (May 31, 2021). Retrieved from