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Preserving The Professional Environment: Rules For Working With The Opposite Sex

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Women in the workforce, not a new concept but one that still in need of a few novel ideas for helping ladies from becoming just an overlooked and/or envied office “novelty”. As we all know, working for, or with other women can make it challenging based on “female” rivalry and competition alone, working for or with men, on the other hand, leaves many women at “risk” for being overlooked or not taken seriously. Now add in the fact, that even in business, men and women often analyze, understand, and approach situations differently, and still don’t fully comprehend the logic of the other, and you could have a professionally disastrous mix.

Yet, experts assert that men and women have been (peaceably) working together for quite some time now, and with the growing need for two income families, it doesn’t look like most women will be leaving the work force (or wanting to) any time soon.

With that said, its imperative, especially for men and women, to polish their office “politics” and communication skills to ensure career success.

1. Learn To “Chat”: According to experts, most men engage in conversation simply to exchange facts and information. While women may do the same, they frequently view conversation as a personal interaction contributing to building a trusted relationship. Should a female boss, supervisor, even colleague engage you in small talk, it’s wise to take a minute or two to “entertain” the conversation, even if you’ve got other things on your mind or plate.

2. Listen Up: Make sure that you engage your active listening skills when in conversation with a female boss or colleague. Remember, the may refer back to what they think you’ve already heard. Ask question to make sure you understand the information being conveyed and what circumstances are causing concern.

3. Think Before You Speak: It’s best to choose your words, tone, and phraseology carefully. Keep in mind that something that has the potential for being misinterpreted most likely will, opening up an entire can of worms and problems. Also refrain from insinuating anything that may stir controversy, such as something that may come across as bias or offensive.

4. Add A Grain Of Salt To Criticism: Remember to express disappointment tactfully, diplomatically, and without losing your temper or saying something you may regret. Also it’s best to criticize the work, not the worker and remember to cite specific examples of behavior that needs improving. Keep in mind that women tend to be more sensitive and take criticism more personally; so don’t forget a few words of encouragement as well.

5. Get Specific: Keep in mind that generally speaking women are more detailed than men and that on certain levels women often CAN mix “business” with pleasure by asking about the weekend or your family, and expecting you to ask about theirs. Just make sure, advise experts, to incorporate some banter regarding business and progress and to NEVER cross that fine line of getting “too” personal.

6. Take Your Time: While men may be inclined to jump in and immediately take control of and “fix” a situation, women are more likely to want to ponder (about) problems and possible results and solutions. Keep in mind, that a woman boss, even if she’s made up her mind is more likely to “run it past” others and to allow them to express their opinions and suggestions. Holding off on a decision helps build a better team.

7. Build Bonds: Walk and talk softly if you want to impress the women you work with. Developing a working relationship rather than shying away or trying to supervise is appreciated and respected and rewarded. Make sure to also take note of other’s accomplishments, and allow women to use their skills to benefit your business.

8. Reward Performance Not Appearance: While having a neat, clean, and professional appearance at work is (often) imperative for the success of the company, male employers are better off taking notice of a woman’s accomplishments rather than her “assets”.

9. Learn To Share: Information that is. Women, note experts are excellent at detecting when you are being dishonest of holding something back. Make sure you tell them is layoffs are expected or if any position (they may be interested in) in opening up and always give them the opportunity to take action.

10. Keep It To Yourself: Disassociate yourself from engaging in office gossip. Instead, infuse positive comments and turn around a potential “dangerous” situation.

11. Mind Your Manners: Start to think like a woman in keep in mind the women are more detail oriented than analytical. When a woman nods she is simply letting you know she is listening, not necessarily agreeing. Also she is less likely than a man to react immediately even if she disagrees, but may do so in due time…but first she wants to be sure about her feelings and the facts.

12. Keep It Professional: Keep your private life out of the office. Even if you get a sense that a female employee or colleague is interested, it is probably best that you keep it professional. Office romances can end in personal and professional “disaster”. Be polite, friendly, and courteous, but most of all be NEUTRAL.

Long Island Money & Careers Articles > Preserving The Professional Environment: Rules For Working With The Opposite Sex

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