Why Cooperation and Collaboration is Essential in Today’s Workforce

There are many career fields now where men and women are integrated together. And, when you stop to think about it—even if there’s a career field where it’s predominantly one gender or the other, there is gender overlap either when buying products or services from vendors or serving customers. The way to reduce gender conflict is by focusing on strengths. By intentionally becoming aware of how to use both masculine and feminine communication skills you can give not only yourself, but your company as well, the advantage over your competition when it comes to productivity and creativity. Rapport building is a great way to foster cooperation and collaboration within your company and to obtain repeat customers.
As an individual reading this article you are becoming more cognizant of how masculine and feminine communication skills can be used interchangeably, by both sexes, for greater cooperation and collaboration. Becoming aware of the social skills involved, and then mindfully choosing to use both styles of communication will help you be a better communicator at work (and at home!).
Today we’re focusing on how to build rapport, a skill set women often acquire more naturally due to social conditioning and because they tend to communicate, commiserate, show compassion, and connect with others when under duress based on their physiology. In fact, physiologically, women produce their stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, when they do just that—connect and nurture relationships with others.
When both men and women focus on beefing up their rapport with others, then the entire group (both employees and customers) benefit. Value is placed on what often makes or breaks a company—turning a product or service into profit. This is because the focus is on people enjoying the experience of working to sell or buy the product or service.
Building rapport is a skill that both men and women can benefit from in the workplace. By taking a moment every day to check-in with one another the workplace climate can change from friction and one-upmanship to one that’s more team oriented. This is critical in a workforce that employs both men and women. Put it into context with a young child picking up a toy strewn room. If you’ve picked a room up with a child, you know it is more about picking the toys up together, rather than putting the toys away that makes them feel accepted and like they did something well. When anyone feels like they matter, then typically their performance increases because peer pressure revolves around connection and positive reinforcement.
Women tend to ask others for their input when making decisions, because to them it is important to hear and value what other’s think and feel about the situation. Even in a quick-paced working environment where seconds count, eye contact, nods of the head, can mean the difference between if someone has your back, and if everyone’s on the same page or not.
You build rapport by actively listening to others. Be genuinely interested in someone—whether it’s how potty training is going with their daughter, how they’re coping with a sick parent, or how the work deadline caused them to miss their anniversary—listen with interest. This does not mean a fifteen minute or even a five minute chat every day—it’s a quick check-in as easy as asking, “hey, how is your day?” Stop. Listen to the answer. Respond by rephrasing or repeating back what they said and using empathy. Then, get down to business.
You can also build rapport by observing and responding to nonverbal body cues. Quick check-ins with my Marines as a Marine Corps Officer was invaluable when time was critical. I knew my Marines body language, their moods, and how to motivate each one as individuals. Instead of forcing my will or decisions, I relied on my strength of listening with my ears and reading emotional moods to make decisions that were good not just for the end result, but the people involved as well.
As my yoga teacher challenges us each week with mindfulness homework, let me do the same with you. Your homework is a two-fold challenge. In the next week notice how building rapport benefits the quality of your productivity and creativity. Then challenge your company to do the same. Hire a Mars Venus Coach to go over gender strengths and do DISC profiling with your company for your professional development training, or if there isn’t a Mars Venus Coach in your local area have employees take the online eWorkshop: Mars and Venus in the Workplace. It’s not enough just to read about gender intelligence, you have to put the knowledge into actions by interacting in better ways with others.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

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.