It’s funny that after presenting a workshop on communication styles, I’m obsessing about my communication style.
I think it’s because I’m more aware now that I’m an “emotive-intuitive” communicator (I speak passionately about things I believe in and like to throw out big ideas as they come to me) and the “norm” for the business world (in the US)against which rewards are doled out is “rational,” meaning more direct and impersonal. “Just the facts, Ma’m.”
When we talk about diversity in business, at the end of the day it’s about embracing diverse communication styles. It’s also about recognizing that there are “norms” dictated by the company, and people may feel like an “insider” or “outsider” based on how their communication style compares to that norm.
This actually played out when I didn’t hug my good friend goodbye after a business meeting yesterday. Why? Friend = Hug. Business Meeting = Handshake. Could I really have ‘dissed’ my friend and not hugged her goodbye, because subconsciously I thought others would think we were too “girlfriendish” and not “serious about business?” And what norm was it that I thought I was conforming to anyway?
I decided to do some cross-cultural research about my (seemingly) own culture. Culturecrossing.net explains it this way:
Man greeting Man – Men shake hands when greeting one another and maintain direct eye contact. A relatively firm handshake is the way to go. Light hugs are common between good friends and family.
Woman greeting Woman– At a first meeting, a light handshake will suffice. Light hugs are common between good friends and family.
Man greeting Woman– At a first meeting a regular handshake will do. Light hugs are common between good friends and family.
I’ve heard the statement ‘women are more emotional and men are more rational’ used to convey males’ better suitability to business, but really these are just alternate communication styles. It’s only US business culture that places higher value on one style over another.
Recognizing, including and rewarding a diversity of communication styles is at the true heart of employee engagement and inclusion.
Think about your day-to-day activities in the workplace. Do you do them because they come naturally, or because you think they are expected of you? What’s your communication style, and how is it valued within your workplace?
While you do that, I’m calling my friend to apologize!