Relationships, respect, workplace authority and education are common ways men and women are pitted against each other. Communication, however, is the common denominator in all of those situations, as it’s the way both sexes are able to get their point across in any platform. Overcoming barriers in gender communication isn’t simple but can be made clear with a little patience and understanding.
Men and women have a history of being painted into a box of stereotypical personalities from childhood. Boys are brawny and brash, girls are giddy and gossipy. Boys grow up as men who have been illustrated as impatient, unemotional, detached enigmas whose emotions are seemingly untouchable. Women are portrayed as wearing their emotions on their sleeves and coddling everyone and everything they come in contact with. Basing gender communication on childhood fantasies creates a battle of the sexes that can foster barriers.
Understanding the types of ways men and women contact others helps reduce the barricade of interaction between the sexes. Studies show that women tend to be more emotional and storytelling, while men are direct and factual. Understanding even the simple personality traits helps fill the cracks in gender roles. A California State Polytechnic University study on gender management in the workplace showed that even with differences both stereotypical and realistic, there were not many differences in the end result of how men and women solved problems or conducted business, but rather in their approaches that led to the final decision. So although women may take more time to ask questions to build a rapport with clients, as opposed to their male counterparts, who want to get directly down to business, there was no major fluctuation between tasks completed or problems solved.
Patience, or lack thereof, is a barrier to any type of communication. Being educated to the facts of what makes genders different and what works is not simple. The process of bridging the gap in gender communication requires a great deal of patience and understanding that only time and attention will teach. Patience may be literally stopping what you’re doing or saying midway to redirect your approach in a way that helps make the way you communicate with the opposite gender work.
Crystal Green is a marketing and event management consultant specializing in non-profit organizations and small businesses. Green spent the last seven years working for a statewide education association directing their trade publications, writing articles for programs' training teams and other event-related freelance projects. Green hold a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, and is currently working on advanced degrees.