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Male and Female Communication Styles in the Workplace


It may sound strange but there is a difference in the way both male and female communication styles in the workplace.

There are certain types of behavior patterns that both genders tend to show. However, this does not mean that all men and women possess these characteristics.

Psychologists who have studied the behavior of both men and women are careful enough not to generalize them based on stereotypes. Variations do tend to exist among both groups.

male and female communication styles

Communication skills play a great role in deciding the success of an individual in his career or profession. People who possess good communication skills do better than others in the workplace.

Here, we focus on the female and male communication styles that both groups tend to show within their workplace. Some of them are mentioned below:

How Workplace Communication Styles Differ by Gender:

Ordering subordinates:

Men and women have very different ways of managing their subordinates and giving them orders. Many studies have shown that women tend to be subtle in their speech, while men speak more directly.

Women, for instance, make use of tag lines such as “don’t you think’’ after making a conversation, “if you don’t mind’’ while making a demand or “this may be a bad idea, but’’ before a suggestion.

This is a good approach when you need to keep things subtle and do not wish to hurt others while presenting what is in mind.

The problem arises while such women order subordinate men who do not understand such subtle manners. They may not take the hint when their female boss gives an order or poses a suggestion.

Right from their childhood women are taught to maintain harmony in their relationships. This approach is visible in the form of softened demands, nitpicked statements and a cautious tone of communication.

One thing we have to keep in mind is that just because the speaker adopts a cautious tone of the content doesn’t necessarily mean that he lacks confidence.

In the same manner, direct communication which is often the communication style of many men and some women as well doesn’t mean that the person is arrogant, dominating or too proud. These are two different ways of communication. Each is effective in its manner.

Men seek some time alone to solve a problem while women look for companionship:

How men and women resolve issues is connected to major hormones, oxytocin, and testosterone. Normally, when men feel that they are stressed out and are faced with a problem, they tend to withdraw.

According to experts, it is a man’s reaction to the rising testosterone levels to meet up with the challenge.

In contrast, women looking for support to solve any issue. This approaches men and women quite distinct in the same situation.

Men prefer to arrange their thoughts properly and then speak up and clear the misunderstanding. Women, on the contrary, seek emotional support to speak their side of the story. They may use jargon and examples to explain things with clarity.

Women tend to ask more questions:

Another major area of difference in communication between men and women in the workplace is that women usually ask more questions than men. You might have heard the anecdote about the man who refuses to ask people directions when he loses his way. You may laugh at the story but it highlights a major aspect of male personality.

Asking questions signifies different things to men and women. Men normally ask questions for a single purpose: only to collect information. When it comes to women, there are two main reasons for asking a question.

First and foremost, they intend to gather information. Secondly, they ask questions simply to show interest in what the other person says and to strengthen the relationship.

Overpowering misunderstandings and misinterpretations:

Both these different styles of communication and questioning raise important questions about the role played by women in the workplace. There is nothing wrong with the two styles of communication.

Men find it OK to be more direct while women find it easier to communicate in a gentle, softer tone. An issue arises when these variations cause misunderstandings and misinterpretations among the staff.

It can have a negative impact on teamwork. It may ruin a professional’s chances of moving up the hierarchy of the organization. While most professions were predominantly male dominated, now the scenario is changing.

A person who clearly understands the difference between male and female personalities does better while working in an organization.

However, if one person is abrupt in his or her approach doesn’t mean that the other person is cold and detached. Some people have a cautious way of approach. That doesn’t mean that others are weak or they lack confidence.

People communicate in the way they do, which they have been habituated to since childhood. But what is important is how co-workers react to it. They should give each other a chance and find what lies behind the style of communication of that person. This can help in improving understanding among different team members.

How they speak:

Men usually believe that there should be a clear purpose behind communication. So they speak with clarity and purpose regarding any subject. Women express their feelings through communication. For them, communication is an act of sharing.

Through communication, they try to strengthen their understanding with co-workers. Women are better at expressing their emotions through their words.

How much do they speak?

Men emphasize efficiency and productivity in their day to day life. The same applies to their conversation. A man speaks to clear all doubts. He shares only those points which he feels are of vital importance.

Therefore, men might wonder as to why women need to talk so much as they normally do. So, they might interrupt a female co-worker.

In contrast, women’s communication styles use to organize the different thoughts which come to their mind. This helps them to discover the major points which need to address.

A woman may not have a clear idea of whether what she is saying is necessary. Sometimes she speaks too much unknowingly.

However, women normally do not look for a solution when they start a conversation. Rather, they look towards a co-worker to listen and lend a patient ear to what she wants to say.

Sharing information:

When it comes to sharing information, men tend to show their expertise over the matter which they are discussing. In contrast, women try to build relationships with others while sharing information. They, thus provide others with the opportunity to gain the same level of knowledge that they have.

It creates a level playing field and builds a good relationship with their co-workers. Men usually tend to interrupt others and compete with others to speak. Women wait for others present in the meetings to speak before they get themselves heard.

Therefore, they let their colleagues share the floor and speak on the issue which is being discussed. They can thus build greater goodwill among their co-workers as compared to men.

Ways of listening:

Both men and women have very different ways of listening to a conversation. Most trainers are of the view that men tend to listen to the speaker by slightly turning away and looking at the different parts of the room. Women, on the other hand, tend to look at the speaker in the eye and nod as a sign of approval.

So when a man turns away and starts looking at the different parts of the room, women tend to think that he is not interested in what is being discussed.

All people do not behave in the same manner and therefore there are different communication styles in the workplace.

However, just because someone seems detached does not necessarily mean that he is not mentally present in the conversation.

Variations in body language:

Body language is a major factor through which men and women differ in their communication styles. There is a great communication difference between men and women in the workplace.

According to many eminent psychologists, women tend to be highly expressive. So, it is not uncommon to see them wave their hands, draw their bodies in by keeping their legs crossed and their arms and legs close to each other.

In contrast, men look calmer and do not show emotion. They stretch out and spread their ways. During a conversation, women try to acquire attention. Men, on the other hand, try their best to avoid emotional conflict.

How they build relationships:

Compared to men, women are good at building relationships with co-workers within the office. They build relationships with the main aim to acquire the help that they require when the need arises.

Men usually prefer to work alone and gain leadership roles based on their abilities. This can often cause issues for men if they do not seek the required assistance when the need arises.

Therefore, they need to learn to collaborate to a greater extent by playing a more active part within their team. This will help them to get along with others.

The Seven Myths of Male Communication:

Myths are just wrong assumptions that people usually carry. They are not only false but can be considered as plain wrong. One should not only be careful but also should take precautionary steps to stop these myths spread.

It is a well-known truth that the communication styles of men and women differ in many ways. Miscommunication or wrong communicating things can create myths about anything in people’s minds. As per a study, men have weaker communication skills when compared to women, but this doesn’t stand true for all.

Top 7 male Communication Myths:

  1. Men usually carry 3 emotions: Happiness, hunger, and anger
  2. Men feel unsecured looking at the mirror
  3. Men walk out often
  4. Men do not talk out their heart
  5. Men struggle to talk straightly
  6. Men usually avoid
  7. Men prefer to keep things clear and friendly

6 Ways Men & Women Communicate Differently:

Men and women are varied in many ways, for instance, the way they behave, think and even communicate. The way their attitude is built depends upon how they take and share things.

Saying this clearly means that communication holds great importance in everyone’s life. Here are a few types of how males and females behave in particular situations.

Important Communication Differences:

Communication cuts Down When :

  • Men: When told what to do
  • Women: When her problems are being ignored as silly and petty

When He Is Feeling Down:

  • Men: Withdraws easily and covers up in his own space
  • Women: Giving him his space, little time and appreciating his efforts

When She Is Feeling Down:

  • Men: Wants to find solutions to her problems head-on and is mostly impatient initially
  • Women: Needs care and support so that it makes her feel loved

What Does It Mean To Listen?

  • Men: He is constrained to listen to the whole thing
  • Women: Her solution to the conversation is to get productive results

How Much Should You Say?

  • Men: He uses communication especially for prioritizing on things like efficiency and productivity
  • Women: Uses communication to organize or execute their thoughts.

Why Talk?

  • Men: Feels that communication should serve some purpose.
  • Women: Communicate to share her thoughts and learn new things