Don’t let unspoken gender rules get in the way

When it comes to communicating in the workplace — men and women don’t typically speak the same language.

According to Sherry Waddingham, president of Mindshift, a Toronto-based workplace communications company, men tend to be more assertive, competitive, look to problem solve and are poor listeners. Women on the other hand, are less assertive, look to share power and be a team player — seeking to involve others in the conversation and decision making.

This dynamic is rooted in gender roles and rules that shape our lives and our workplace, but women can break the rules, she added.

Men and women have different rules by which they work, communicate and make decisions. The challenge for women is these rules are not consciously communicated, which leaves women operating blind. Earlier this week, Waddingham spoke at the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She shared insights on how women in agriculture can avoid gender-influenced pitfalls that hold them back in the workplace. Her advice includes being more assertive, building self-esteem, knowing your strengths and weakness, and being able to silence your ‘inner critic.’

Sherry Waddingham and Bernard Tobin discuss how men and women can adapt to create a more diverse, inclusive and productive workplace. (story continues below)

Men also have an important role to play in creating a more diverse, inclusive and productive workplace. “Men are very much goal-oriented and want to solve problems which is great, but sometimes, to improve communications, you just need to listen,” says Waddingham who also speaks to groups of men on how they can work better with women.

“It’s not about whether men or women are right or wrong,” she says. “The key is being able to adapt.”



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