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Tips for Better Communication Between Men and Women in the Workplace

By Simma Lieberman

Workplaces are always tricky to navigate, even more so because of sensitivities that should be common sense, but aren't always.

Typical Complaints Women Have About Men

  • Addressing women as "girls," "gals," "honey," "babyyoung," "lady," "darlin'"
  • A lot of women don't want to be called "ladies" at work
  • Making women into objects... "I have a car, a boat, a dog, and a wife."
  • Using expressions that only use sports, violence or sexual connotations... "We murdered the competition" or  "More bang for the buck"
  • Making decisions about work with each other and not including women. Then telling women, "Last night we got together and decided..."

Typical Complaints Men Have About Women

  • Not getting down to business soon enough
  • Taking things too seriously
  • Trying to be "one of the boys" (Using profanity, telling sexist jokes, etc.)

Gender Communication Tip Sheet

Share experiences to show commonality
Focus on statistics
Build off of each others discussion points
Relate by sharing stories to one up each other

Strategy: Women, get to bottom line quickly and succinctly. Men, understand that when women tell a story, they are building common ground with you.

Want to talk about the  problem and solve it  collaboratively
Move to solutions and problem solving right away
Emphasis on feelings and communications
Value placed on ability to achieve results
Processing is a way to include others and build relationships.

Strategy: Women, don't try to get men to talk if they're not ready. Observe and listen rather than process out loud. Men, understand that processing is a way for women to include others and build relationships.

Offer help and advice as a sign of caring
To ask for help reflects an inability to achieve on one's own merit.

Strategy: Women, understand that offering help may be inferred as a lack of trust in another's ability. Don't be so quick to offer advice. Men, ask what you can do to help. It may be an opportunity to show support and caring.

Strengths Associated with Women at Work

Harmony Balance Nurturance, serenity, creativity and vision

Teamwork and collaboration

Detail oriented

Strengths Associated with Men at Work

Goal orientation

Tangible accomplishments

Problem solving

Singleness of purpose

Responsiveness to challenge


About the Author: Simma Lieberman works with people and organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. She specializes in diversity, gender communications, life-work balance and stress, and acquiring and retaining new customers.

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