Understanding typical gender differences in your team will help members communicate more effectively. The different attitudes, including the strengths and styles that the respective gender bring to the workplace influence the culture of the team and help to shape the organization work atmosphere.

While is it safe to assume that a number of gender differences in the workplace can be attributed to stereotypes and differences in temperaments, communication and leadership types cannot be ignored.  It is important to consider the differences between the genders, in terms of lifestyle and communication: the possible motivation for these lifestyles and a balanced approach to effective communication in a team. 

General Differences between Genders

Men are generally task oriented and build relationships on the job. They prefer to work alone in competitive environments and handle their task independently. They tend to process information internally before coming out with a solution; they are also hierarchical and include only people close to them and at their level, in leadership.

On the other hand, women tend to be more relationship oriented; they accomplish their task by building on relationships first. They are more incline to work in teams and share their experiences with team members. Women often look at options out loud when processing information; in leadership, they lead by consensus.

Communication Behaviours and Motivations between Genders

Male Communication Behaviours

Possible Motivation

Challenges and points out other perspectives (‘the devil’s advocate’)

A desire to gather information or expand knowledge

Uses direct, brief & commanding tone to communicate

Desire to be efficient and establish functional hierarchy

Sitting on an angle and avoiding eye contact

Trying not to be aggressive or challenging

Moving into another’s space, talking more with authority

Making impression and establishing respect &leadership

Solution talk, action planning & impatience with venting

Desire for tangible outcomes and success

Female Communication Behaviours

Possible Motivation

Sharing thoughts, personal details & feeling of vulnerability, complementing others

A desire to build relationship, trust & cohesion

Pausing and encouraging others to take turns speaking

Desire to build respect & balance

Apologizing or seeking help

Trying to build mutual understanding and support

Asking questions, using rhetorical questions to lead and influence

Creating an atmosphere of respect and team work, de-emphasizing hierarchical relationships

Balanced Approach to Effective Communication across Gender in a Team

  • Be aware of gender differences in communication
  • Recognize your own communication style and bias
  • Understand the unique communication behaviours of the other gender
  • Understand the motivation behind the behaviors
  • Adjust to those conversational styles
  • Don’t criticize but be respectful and open to other person’s communication style and values
  • Work on compromise to bring out the strength of the communication style