Your communication style might be costing you sales, a promotion or leadership opportunity. Different communication styles can be offensive in the workplace, or at least drive people crazy and add stress to their lives.
There are female communication styles, male styles, and Bridge Brains. A Bridge Brain is someone in the middle of the gender/brain spectrum. (From the book, “What Could He Be Thinking?” by Michael Gurian).
Adapting to different communication styles improves your ability to persuade, influence and engage others. Just like cultural beliefs, there’s no right or wrong, they’re just different. Understanding the differences can reduce a lot of stress and conflict in all your relationships.
In a quick nutshell, female communication styles give lots of details, the whole story, and everything in between. Women connect through stories and how everything relates to the people they care about. Male communication styles prefer facts, figures, and stats. They want to jump past what they consider a long story with too many details, get to the bottom line and solve the problem. Meanwhile the woman is frustrated thinking he isn’t listening! He is, just the only way he knows how.
Women don’t always communicate in traditional female ways and men don’t always communicate in male ways. In fact, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men are Bridge Brains. Are Bridge Brains born or learned? Both. Bridge Brains are developed in the womb, or after years of learned adaptations from social and work environments, or a little of both. Some women have learned to adapt their communication styles in a male dominated industry. Yet at home, with friends, or on their most stressful days they may use a more female communication style which is to process out loud. The man who grew up with all sisters learned to adapt his communication style early in life. (I loved dating those, they were so thoughtful!
My friend interrupted me the other day as I was detailing a tough day and asked if my story had a point? If it was anyone else I may have wanted to strangle them, but she knows me well enough to call me on my stuff AND she has a male style of communication. She knows I teach women to say it in a sentence, and I already delivered a paragraph!
If you have a female style presenting to a male style, focus on giving the bottom line first then the details. “I recommend we (recommendation). I’d be happy to elaborate on my research and decision making factors when you have the time to hear them.”
If you are a male style communicating with a female style, acknowledge her first. Then ask for the bottom line: “I know you performed extensive research on this topic and I appreciate it. Please give me your recommendation/the top 3 reasons/the bullet points and then we can explore how you got there if needed.”
It’s challenging for me to bottom line years of research, reading, and firsthand experience in just a few short paragraphs. I’d like to hear what you think. What’s your story and style?