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Men, on the other hand, do not always recognize indirect messages or pick up on nuances in words or body language. In short, they don't always accurately "read between the lines" to understand a woman's meaning or question. The results: (1) Women ask questions meant as indirect objections, and men seem to ignore their objections and feelings. (2) Women ask questions meant only to solicit information to which men react defensively. Directness. Women's language tends to be indirect, indiscreet, tactful, and even manipulative. Women tend to give fewer directives and use more courtesy words with those directives. Example: "The approach is not exactly foreign to our designers" meaning "They are familiar with it." Or "Mary may not be available to handle the project" meaning "Mary doesn't want to handle the project."
Men's language tends to be more direct, powerful, blunt, and at times offensive. Men generally give more directives, with fewer courtesy words. Example: "Tom blew the deal with that client because of his stubborn refusal to negotiate on the delivery." Or "That's a half-baked idea if I ever heard one. You're dead wrong."
When a female manager asks a male employee, "Do you think you can have the proposal ready by Friday?" and he answers affirmatively, she expects the report on Friday. When Friday comes and the proposal isn't ready, the (female) manager looks at the situation as failure to comply with her directive while the (male) employee "just wasn't able to get around to it."
Small talk. Women talk to build rapport with others, and to explore their own feelings and opinions. Consequently, they consider most subjects worthy of conversation. They often talk about personal topics such as relationships, people, and experiences. To women, an important aspect of conversation is simply "connecting" emotionally with another person.
Men tend to view conversation as means of exchanging information or solving problems. They discuss events, facts, happenings in the news, sports-generally topics not directly related to themselves. Other subjects about "routine" matters may, in men's estimation, not warrant conversational effort.
Whether in sales, management, or marriage, awareness of gender differences in communication can prove a boon to your success in working with teams, managing groups, or presenting your services or products.
Dianna Booher, CPS, is CEO of Booher Consultants, a Dallas-based communications consulting firm that offers training in effective writing, oral presentations, interpersonal skills, and customer service communications. She is a keynote speaker and has written over 37 books, including Communicate with Confidence! [McGraw-Hill]. To bring Dianna’s expertise to your group, contact the Frog Pond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2002, Dianna Booher
Copyright © 2003, The Negotiator Magazine