I guess it's no secret, but men and women are different. Not only do we look different from one another, but we think, act, and even communicate in different ways. While these differences are part of what makes the world go 'round, they can also be the source of confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.
According to Melissa Lamson, a consultant who helps companies like LinkedIn, IKEA, MTV, Porsche, and SAP work across global cultures and improve gender communication, men often have a hard time finding common ground with their female colleagues. This causes problems--not only for the employees in question, but for the organization as a whole. Says Lamson, "As a result, some professional relationships suffer and the team doesn't work quite as efficiently as it could."
So what can be done to help? Men can build bridges with their female colleagues by learning how to communicate with them better. Here, according to Melissa Lamson, are 10 great ways to do just that.
1. Be authentic in every interaction
Just be yourself--don't try to be someone you're not.
Be an active listener--ask questions, really listen to the answers, and show through your body language that you're interested in what the other person has to say.
3. Identify topics to talk about
Avoid typical small talk in areas like work and sports. Instead, try world news, culture, and industry trends.
4. Family is always a safe area
Family is also a good topic to talk about and bond over--what parent doesn't like talking about his or her children?
5. Don't avoid attractive female colleagues
Treat them like anyone else you work with. Don't be intimidated--be friendly, accepting, and open.
6. Don't worry about how you'll be perceived by others
You have much to learn from your coworkers, whether they are women or men. Focus on learning from them, and on collaborating to create the best possible results for the organization.
7. Come up with networking goals before conferences and events
Set a goal to meet a certain number of new people--women and men--before you attend any conference or other event. Make a point of reaching out to women and not excluding them from your conversations or your circle of friends.
8. Praise co-workers on their professional abilities
And while you're at it, share a technique that has brought you success on the job.
9. Don't stick to your clique at work
The key to making new work acquaintances--female and male--is to break out of your usual group of colleagues to meet someone new.
10. Don't assume any woman is less capable than you
Don't be patronizing to your female colleagues, or make them feel that in your offer of assistance you are condescending to them. Treat your female colleagues as peers, and not subordinates.