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Cracking the gender code at work

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You probably don't need a book to tell you that men and women communicate differently. But in GenderTalk Works: Seven Steps for Cracking the Gender Code at Work, author Connie Glaser explains that the way we speak and listen to one another can often be muddled by stereotypical gender roles.

Among her tips to help women communicate more clearly with men:

1. Stop apologizing so much. When women say, “I’m sorry,” they’re typically saying that they’re sorry something happened, not that it was their fault. But men perceive those words as a sign that a woman lacks confidence and competence. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry … ,” you might say, “Unfortunately … .”

2. Don’t wait for an invitation. Women tend to wait for others to ask for their opinion. But the male culture is more like a pickup basketball game: You want in, you jump in.

3. Be direct. “As women’s language tends to be more indirect, a woman might say, ‘It’s really hot in here,’ which translates into ‘Turn down the thermostat,’” Glaser says. “Men tend to be more literal. They probably think she’s complaining about the room temperature.”

4. Seek visibility for yourself. You may have been taught that if you do a good job, you’ll be recognized accordingly. But that’s not how business works. “The right people need to know about your accomplishments if you want to get ahead,” says Glaser. “Women need to seek visibility for themselves: Volunteer to make a presentation, write a press release about recent accomplishments, network with influential co-workers and let key people know about your successes.”

5. Help them hear you out. Language patterns between the sexes are strikingly different, she says. “Men subscribe to the ‘if you’ve got something to say, say it now’ theory,” while women take turns. It’s one reason men are prone to interrupting. Glaser advises women to stand their ground and finish what they’re saying when speaking with a man who interrupts.

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