When meetings, teams and companies are predominantly dominated by men, it is often not easy for women to convince with their ideas and to be taken seriously by their male colleagues.
At least in the middle and upper management levels, where the air is getting thinner and thinner, women will mostly queue behind their male colleagues, unless they have some knowledge of the basic rules of male communication in the business world.
To be successful, you need to know the basic rules
If you don’t know the basic rules of male communication, then as a woman you will have a hard time playing at the top of male-dominated rounds. But this knowledge can be a great advantage for you as a woman not only in companies, but also, for example, in bank or customer meetings.
Only if you are willing to play by the male rules will you be successful.
Without knowing the rules of the game you will not win a match
This may sound a bit harsh to you, but think of it this way: if you don’t know the rules of tennis, for example, but your competitor does, then it will be difficult for you to win the tennis match.
That’s exactly how it is in business. If you don’t know the ground rules, you’ll have a hard time succeeding in male-dominated meetings, teams or companies.
Basic rule No. 1: Communication behavior of women and men in business
The communication behavior of men and women is known to differ. For you as a woman, it is therefore important to know how men’s communication behavior behaves, especially in business, because this way you can better prepare yourself for future situations.
How male communication works in business
In many companies, there are unconscious communication rules set by top management. And since this is usually occupied by men, male communication is also applied. Only, how does male communication work?
The male communication in business meetings
Imagine you are sitting in a meeting and you are the only woman among several men and you would like to present your idea. The meeting was called and everyone just got together.
Now you are surprised that your male colleagues start off with an exchange of blows. For you, it’s about absolutely incomprehensible topics that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the meeting.
You think to yourself, “Oh man, this status stuff again,” and try to get your colleagues’ attention on your topic. Only stupidly, no one really listens to you. Why only?
The ranking determines to whom the content flows
Already here you have made the first mistake, because the
“male communication is based on a hierarchy”.
If the highest status among the participants has not yet been determined, then men tend to determine it by exchanging blows. They are anxious to be ranked and need to know where they stand in the hierarchy.
“Men’s communication always goes to the highest in status.”
Men do not waste time communicating their content to lower-ranking men, because communicating with lower-ranking men would not get them where they want to go.
Communication behavior of women
Women don’t need to fit into a rank because they look for connections and common ground in their communication. Men, on the other hand, use their communication to set themselves apart.
Women look for connections in their communication
Many women try to look for allies in their communication and direct their content to everyone in the room. In their arguments they involve others and thus try to create a network.
“As a woman, however, you won’t get far with your connecting communication among male colleagues or clients.”
To be successful, you should know male communication and follow its basic rules.
Basic rules of male communication at a glance
In the following, I will briefly present you with an overview of the basic rules of male communication:
- Find out who is the highest status person in the round and only ever communicate your content to the highest status person.
- If you want to play at the top, then join the ranks and try to get to the top of the invisible hierarchy. You can only achieve this if the highest status person keeps paying attention to you and you can convince him of your content.
- When you say something, do not speak in the round, but address the highest status person. If this one listens to you, then the others will listen to you too.
- Ranking comes before content. At men’s meetings, don’t start with your content right away, but play along with the repartee.
- Try to find allies in your communication who are high in rank, but better yet: direct your content to the highest in status.
Basic rule No. 2: Do not accept foul play!
Have you internalized these basic rules of male communication?! Very well, let’s continue with the rule of “Accept no foul play and hit back!” This means as much as:
“Don’t put up with everything!”
A very good rule, especially for us harmony-loving women! In business, the wind blows differently and you will notice that one or the other male colleague does not respect you.
What are foul plays
What are foul plays now? Foul play is behavior by others that either subtly, behind your back, or quite publicly, crosses your boundaries.
“They are deliberate games others play to try to keep you down, make you look ridiculous, and simply disrespect you.”
How these foul plays are expressed
There are a lot of foul plays. It goes from
- Word Interruptions,
- Ignore, up to
- To take up your ideas and much more.
You should definitely not put up with these foul plays and counter them right away. Otherwise, you won’t be able to gain respect.
How you deal with word interruptions
Word interruptions are among the most common foul plays by male colleagues. If it happens to you that a male colleague or even your boss constantly interrupts you, then you should not give in to this foul, but just keep talking!
“Are you thinking “but that’s rude”? Then I ask you now, who is actually rude here? Is it you or your counterpart?”
Show that you don’t like word interruptions
You can let your voice get a little louder for a moment while the other person is interrupting you, so that the interruption is drowned out with your voice. After that, resume speaking in a calm and normal tone.
After you’ve spoken, you can now say to your counterpart,“You were about to say something, what was it?”
If it happens to you often that the same person keeps interrupting you, then I recommend that you address this person in a one-on-one conversation.
Unfortunately, you often have to earn respect
“RESPECT is something you often have to work for in many male-dominated companies and teams. However, this is not possible if you allow yourself to be fouled by the other person and put up with everything!
Of course, this takes a bit of courage and practice, but if you practice it for a while and start small, I’m sure you’ll soon get the hang of it too. After all, this is about you and maintaining your boundaries. You should be worth it!
Book tip on the subject
If you want to learn more about this topic “How to assert yourself as a woman in business”, I recommend a great book where you can get even better insights.
The book is called “Games of Power: How Women Get Their Way.” and is by Marion Knaths. It is about communication in business in relation to power and explains what we women can do to be respected by others and how we succeed in convincing others of our ideas and asserting ourselves.
Click here for the book tip: https://amzn.to/3JIsCrw
Seeing men in the right light
This article is not intended to portray the male gender in a bad light. Of each gender, there are friendly and less friendly fellows. The article only describes situations that often occur in business and should help you as a woman how to deal with them in the best possible way.
It is important to me that men and women meet at eye level. Of course, there are also companies and teams where you are perceived equally and taken seriously as a woman. I wish you that very much, of course.
More about me and my work
I wrote this article because I know the challenges of being a woman in business. I myself worked for years in a male-dominated company, made many mistakes and learned a lot. Today I pass on my knowledge to other women.
If you would like to read more articles from me, please feel free to visit my Blog on my homepage. I write about women in business, leadership and careers. The following article might be interesting for you as well: Woman in Business (Meeting): How to be taken seriously and convince! (growforbusiness.com)
Click here for the homepage: www.growforbusiness.de . Feel free to follow me on social media as well.
About the author
Hello, my name is Judith. I am an expert in guiding female professionals and managers through career changes and an HR consultant for micro and medium-sized enterprises. I have 10 years of experience in medium-sized companies as a human resources manager and executive in male-dominated companies. For women, I offer coaching and mentoring in the areas of career, application and business and advise companies on their recruitment and personnel processes.
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