The Uncomfortable Silence

Learn to ListenIn today’s Mars Venus Coaching tip, I want to talk about the uncomfortable silence… That time in between when you ask a question and you receive a response. People don’t like that ‘silence’ in the middle of a question so they will ask you another question and if you don’t respond to that, they will continue asking questions. This is a very difficult thing to do.

If you look at the statistics in coaching, the most powerful thing we can give is being good listeners for people. If you’re a good listener – you’re demonstrating good coaching. That’s really what your clients are buying from you.

Statistics show that the most powerful thing in coaching the people want to buy ‘listening’ – not talking to them or giving them advice. Actually LISTENING. Being a good listener is what makes them feel good. I want you to listen more carefully. Just sit there with no response and allow them to continue to talk.

Nobody likes that uncomfortable silence. If you give them that uncomfortable silence – they will talk even more. The more they talk, the more you’re demonstrating Koji. The more you demonstrate coaching, the more they like it.

Learn to listen – not your ability to talk. That’s your tip for the day.

Mars Venus on Gender Intelligent Communication

For anyone attending recent women’s business conferences or reading the latest articles devoted to the lack of women in the executive ranks, Mars Venus Coaching asks you to open your mind to the possibility of a quick, yet long-term fix to increase the status of women in the corporate world. There is an undercurrent of paranoia and frustration about why numbers are not equalizing among the sexes at the top of the leadership pyramid. These feelings of uneasiness are in response to being run ragged by constant low-grade stress. Whenever we ask people if they are familiar with the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, there tends to be an instant lighting up of the eyes, and an intake of breath. This term coined by Dr. John Gray when he wrote his best-selling book of that title back in 1992 is now considered to be part of our society’s vernacular. Dr. John Gray has written many books relating to the Mars Venus dynamic (16 and counting). Instead of reading the research and literature, the following is a quick synopsis of why implementing this quick fix is imperative. It’s important not only for women to remain in and ascend the corporate ladder, but also to re-balance and give quality of life back to everyone in this fast-paced, high-tech world. The solution Mars Venus refers to is introducing gender intelligent communication into professional development training.

Our current expectations and assumption men and women are equal, and therefore must be treated the same is both an unrealistic expectation and an unexamined assumption. To address reality, the solution is to address the real issue, and that is the current state of men’s communication style being preferred, while disregarding how women communicate. The solution then is to teach how men and women communicate differently in workshops at work. Women are up against a brick wall when it comes to fitting into a culture that disregards their unique gender-based contributions of working and relating to others. The solution of teaching gender intelligent communication implements a culture shift at corporate to equally embrace and respect men and women’s unique gender contributions. Continuing to force women to assimilate to a male created work climate is unwise. Now we are armed with information regarding why and how it damages both our bodies (health and wellness wise) and our relationships (at work and at home).

The latest research shows how men and women’s interaction with stress is different in three ways. The first is how the chemicals in our brain respond differently to stress. The second way we’re different is we produce different stress-reducing hormones. Men reduce stress by producing testosterone, and women reduce stress by producing oxytocin. And the third is the way we reduce our stress. How we produce the stress-reducing hormone based on our gender, actually increases the other gender’s stress! The research is good to understand the why’s behind the way we behave, and more importantly why we communicate differently the way we do with one another; however, what is more germane to this discussion is the quickest way to balance men and women in the workplace. The easy answer is we do this through gender intelligent communication workshops.

The culture needs to change, and the quickest way is to train people in the ways men and women communicate differently. The first level of learning is awareness. The second level is putting it into practice. Previous solutions offered saved face. This “lip service” backfired with more misunderstanding and disgruntled employees. This solution does not promote women being promoted without hard work or merit. The companies which accept and respect women’s unique penchant for attention to detail while they incorporate everyone into the decision-making process at the same time as when they identify emotional consequences are the companies gaining recognition for success and increased quality of life for its employees and customers. This solution is not lip service, because it requires an immediate call to action to train people how to effectively communicate.

When the two different gender styles of communication are both given credit for their strengths and weaknesses, then the playing field is leveled, because our unique ways of relating to one another are understood, respected, and embraced. Changing the way we talk to one another, in essence, is the fundamental first step that has heretofore been missing. A culture shift occurs when we are able to open our hearts and minds to understand the other person’s way of communicating as being a slight variation in dialect. The modus operandi of male communication patterns or else is outdated. Running a balanced work world embracing both men and women’s unique contributions acknowledges everyone’s gifts. In turn this makes the workplace more productive and conducive to both new growth and change as the workforce assimilates cultural awareness. There will be equal numbers of men and women in and at the top in the corporate world once everyone is respected for their method of communicating. Lucky for us the by-product is lower stress levels for all. This goes a long way for our economic, health, and marriage crisis; which would be easier to handle if our relationships were open, honest, healthier, and a source of comfort both at work and at home.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Corporate Media Relations

Mars Venus Coaching

 

 

Are You a Skilled Social Actor or a Social Chameleon?

We all engage in impression management – trying to put our best foot forward and “fit in” in social situations. Two psychological constructs address how people “perform” in social situations, and there are subtle, but important, differences.

The first construct is called Self-Monitoring, and it is the ability to read social cues and alter one’s behavior in order to try to “fit in” to a specific social situation. Often the high self-monitor controls his or her behavior in order to impress others or to receive others’ social approval. Low self-monitors, on the other hand, are less concerned with self-presentation and are more likely to express their true attitudes and feelings, regardless of the social circumstances (think about someone who expresses their true political feelings regardless of who they are interacting with, versus the high self-monitor who sizes up the crowd [liberal vs. conservative?] before sharing, or not sharing, political opinions).

The second construct is called Social Control, and is skill in social acting. Persons high on social control are also able to control and manage their impressions, but they are not as highly affected by the social situation. Instead, the high social control individual possesses a social self-confidence and poise that allows him or her to be effective in a wide variety of social situations. Instead of the high self-monitor’s tendency to “blend in,” the person high in Social Control tends to stand out in a positive manner.

Our research has found that individuals who possess a great deal of Social Control, and who are also expressive and outgoing, are more likely to be perceived as potential leaders, and to lead social groups. High self-monitors are also likely to be chosen as leaders because they represent the “prototype” of a group leader (because they fit in).

One problem with the high self-monitor is that in the desire to fit in with the group and gain their approval, the person may become a sort of “social chameleon,” changing attitudes, opinions, and feelings in an effort to fit in and be accepted. From a leadership perspective, this can mean the leader is highly sensitive and responsive to the social climate (and the leader changes views depending on the crowd, and may appear “wishy-washy”). Socially, the extremely high self-monitor fits in, but we never get a sense of who the social chameleon really is or what he or she believes in and stands for.

On the other hand, the person who is extremely high on social control moves confidently forward, and works to bring others along with him or her. The downside of too much social control, however, can be a sort of arrogance born of the supreme self-confidence that the individual possesses. Social control thus needs to be balanced with a sensitivity to others, and consideration of their opinions and feelings.

So, where do you fall on these two dimensions?

Here are some sample items from the Self-Monitoring Scale (agreeing suggests high self-monitoring):

• In different situations and with different people, I often act like very different persons.

• Even if I am not enjoying myself, I often pretend to be having a good time.

• When I am uncertain how to act in a social situation, I look to the behavior of others for cues.

Here are some sample items from the Social Control scale (again, agreeing suggests high social control):

• I can fit in with all types of people, young and old, rich and poor.

• People from different backgrounds seem to feel comfortable around me.

• I can very easily adjust to being in almost any social situation.

Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

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References

Riggio, Ronald (1987). The Charisma Quotient. New York: Dodd Mead.

Riggio, Ronald, Riggio, H., Salinas, C., & Cole, E. (2003). The role of social and emotional communication skills in leader emergence and effectiveness. Group Dynamics, 7, 83-103.

Snyder, Mark (1987). Public Appearances/Private Realities: The Psychology of Self-Monitoring. San Francisco: Freeman.

Snyder, Mark & Gangestad, S. (2000). Self-monitoring: Appraisal and reappraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 126(4), 530-555.

Understanding Conflict

Have you read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? Did you know since 1992, John Gray, Ph.D. has written more than 16 books about the relationship dynamics between men (Martians) and women (Venusians)? His first book has sold over 20 million copies, has been translated into over 54 languages, and in the 90s outsold all other books except the Bible? People often think of relationship dynamics being just for people in an intimate relationship. However, the information about the different communication styles men and women typically use is germane to professional relationships as well. If not more so, because often conflict arises between the genders when they do not understand the dynamics that naturally exist, and how to work with these dynamics. At work there can even be more conflict due to the fact men expect women to be, do and say exactly like they act, because it’s what’s worked in the past, and what should still work now. But is it? Is there a better way of interacting to utilize everyone’s best skill sets?

Learning the different but equal ways men and women communicate goes a long way in reducing gender conflict in the workplace. Reducing gender conflict has a variety of benefits. It leads to: happier team members, greater cooperation, decreased loss of personnel, which in turn leads to decreased cost & time spent on recruitment and training. Reducing gender conflict also leads to: a better ability to understand the needs and concerns of your customers (regardless of whether they are internal or external customers). Besides that, your company also gains a greater competitive advantage for the company as a whole when they utilize the masculine & feminine skills.

Most people, for example, are uneasy with promoting themselves, their status or their image at work.  Women may have a particularly hard time with this, because they are socialized to present their ideas as suggestions. This is actually a great skill for achieving cooperation and is excellent for situations where maintaining harmony and equality within a group is necessary. Men who are confused and frustrated working with female colleagues often say they see women at best, uncertain or, at worst, manipulative, based on their observations of women not speaking directly. This often makes women extremely uncomfortable to express their ideas while working in what they perceive as a hostile masculine environment.

On the other hand, many women see men as arrogant or self-important. This is based largely on their observations of men expressing their opinions forcefully or seeking attention for their achievements.

Once again, a more positive interpretation is to remember that men are socialized from an early age to suppress doubts and maintain, either a façade or, a reality of self-confidence.  Again this is a great skill and essential in a situation where it is necessary to maintain status within a group. If you’re working in a team, however, promoting yourself rather than the team effort may backfire. As mixed gender work teams become the norm, to succeed at work and in business we must all learn to speak a second language. That language is the language of the opposite sex. Learning a second language does not mean you become that language. It just enables you to communicate more effectively and efficiently with the opposite sex.

In the Mars Venus workshops we talk about ways to accomplish just how to promote your work or yourself…without fear of being overbearing.  We also explore building rapport and the value of rapport in leading to workplace success.

Another area of potential conflict is in the way we talk to our peers and customers. Learning how to avoid monopolizing the conversation as well as being direct and concise are skills not genetic characteristics. In a Mars Venus workshop we examine the art and science of respecting abilities and how to respond to comments from co-workers.  If you’re not sure how to acknowledge the work of others and charge them up this is the workshop for you.  Praise is discussed and how (and when) praise can be used to fuel the response you want.

Do not think we are implying that all men have to be a certain way or that all women should be the same, because…the reality is that we are all individuals.  Everyone can think of examples of reverse gender styles. The whole premise of the Mars Venus work is that we are different and equal  – not that one is better than the other –just different and equal.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations