5 Ways Companies Can Best Celebrate Mothers

Celebrate Mothers

May 8 marks Mother’s Day in the U.S. On Sunday sons, daughters, and husbands will be preparing breakfast in bed, a floral bouquet, or taking part in a family brunch as a way to show mom they appreciate all she does.

But what happens globally on Mother’s Day?

During the 20th century, Mother’s Day in Japan fell on the birthday of Empress Kojun. Usually, Japanese men gift their mothers with red roses and carnations. Like the United States, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year.

Since 1922, Germany has observed Mother’s Day. It is usually held on the second Sunday of May, unless it falls on Pentecost. The maternal holiday was first introduced in Western Europe by the Swiss, who dedicated a day to moms in 1917. Germans will show their affection for mom with cards and flowers.

For some countries, Mother’s Day has religious roots. Argentina once celebrated women in conjunction with the liturgical date for the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Oct. 11. It has since been moved to the third Sunday in October, still taking place during Argentina’s spectacular Spring.

What I find even more interesting is how companies worldwide recognize mothers, and not just for Mothers Day. Here are five things companies do to support mothers (and parents):

New moms can take pre- and post-birth paid leave. Companies, such as Amazon and General Electric, extend that policy to new parents (adoptive or biological) and dads. Many countries, including Europe, have adopted legislation that guarantee those incentives for all employees. Some paid leave can be up to a year and the employee’s job is still waiting for them when they return to work.

Offering flexible working time allows parents to schedule doctors appointments for children, and to accommodate their children’s school or sports calendars.

Corporate offices have dedicated pumping rooms for the breast-feeding mom.

Daycare is an increasing cost for parents. Companies are responding by providing onsite child care or benefits to help with the cost of child care.

Management — men and women — are becoming role-models, speaking out about their family and children obligations to normalize the discussion in the workplace.

Offering those types of benefits to employees not only provides relief to the family, it also works as an incentive for companies to attract and keep top talent.

How are you or your company considering celebrating mothers and parents this month?

Image credit: Fotolia/maros_bauer

Five Friday Highlights: Women Winning at Work

Working Women

Each post I chose to highlight this week somehow relates to how women can succeed. This week, the public discourse has been driven by a visual album about infidelity and a presidential candidate claiming that a female candidate’s “woman card” was too influential on what people thought of her. I chose pieces from different perspectives and I really can’t help wondering how it would go if the authors of these articles were in a room together!

When the New York Post ran I Want All the Perks of Maternity Leave — Without Having Any Kids, social media lit up with reactions to the concept of a “MEternity leave.” The author concludes that, “Work-life balance is tough for everyone, and it happens most when parents and nonparents support and don’t judge each other,” but en route to that balanced conclusion, the author stirred up the ire of many readers. Take a look at the comments and you’ll see!

Maybe the people grappling with the questions raised by the author of the preceding article would benefit from the in-depth discussion summarized in The Future of Women in Business: A Discussion on Gender Parity with Leading Women in Business Today from Ellevate. I love the passage about having “the courageous conversation.” We’ll have to have many courageous conversations in order to achieve gender parity.

Similarly, Breaking Through: Stories and Best Practices from Companies That Help Women Succeed in Huffpost Women is a book excerpt that ultimately asks, “given the proven importance of networking, why do women continue to lag behind?” This book needs to be on our lists.

Lightening things up just a bit, I enjoyed Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Jobs: 7 Leadership Tips and Career Smarts from the Laugh-Out-Loud Memoir by Tina Fey from Sharp Heels. My favorite takeaway was “it is important to be a team player, but likability is not the endgame at the workplace.”

In Winner’s Mentality from Femfessionals, Jessica Passman shared her advice for cultivating a winner’s mentality. “Every mistake is an opportunity to grow,” she reminds. She is so right!

Have you had an experience related to gender parity that has taught you or raised additional questions? Email me by clicking here to let me know!

Image Credit: 123rf/Carlos Santa Maria

3 Qualities of a Successful Female Leader in the Global Workforce

Successful Female Leader

I was once at a talk and got advice that really stuck with me:

Women should walk into a meeting with an all-white suit and they should start crying if anyone upsets them.

Harriet Rubin, author of The Princesa: Machiavelli for Women, tells professional women – albeit in an outrageous way – that we need to embrace and harness our feminine qualities rather than hide them. And if that catches people off-guard, then maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Being genuine to who and what you are instills confidence and can infuse you with power and influence. I find this to be particularly true of women who lead international teams.

In fact, when thinking about the many successful women I have worked with in the global workforce, they share the following three qualities that I think are key to their success:

1. They don’t blend in. You’ll often hear that its paramount to have a global mindset and be able to adapt to culture when leading international teams – heck I preach that all the time! This is true. But the fact is, that’s more important for men than for women. For men, if they ignore cultural nuances, it can be perceived as arrogant. For women, they get some slack. For example, women don’t need to cover themselves completely or act subserviently in certain cultures. Instead, they can dress the way they normally would and find that perfect balance between assertive but friendly behavior. This will garner not only slack, but respect. Now, I’m not saying to walk into a meeting wearing a tank top in Dubai, but women don’t always need to bend the way they do business to fit diverse cultures.

2. They care about their appearance. All the successful women I know dress very elegantly and classically. Their clothes are expensive and their suits are tailored. I know this sounds very superficial but this characteristic helps them gain credibility abroad and among their male counterparts. The care that they put into their appearance communicates that they are someone with influence who should be taken seriously.

3. They exercise. Some of the women I know may do it because it helps their appearance—but that’s really just a fringe benefit. Research shows that people who exercise are more productive. Being active boosts brainpower, gives you more energy, makes you more alert, and lowers stress. These are all vital to being successful professionally. And looking attractive and fit will only help you in the international business world.

Being a female leader of an international team can be tricky but I’ve found that the women who don’t try to be someone else—act like a man or morph into a different nationality—have the most influence and experience the biggest success.

Image Credit: komisar4 / 123RF Stock Photo

Five Friday Highlights: Facing Inequity

While the world today is still unfair, especially for women, it is still possible to knock down walls and make progress. Today, five highlights about the specifics of facing inequity as well as strategies for supporting one another.

We will not be able to fully address gender inequality until we understand it. Take some time to delve into A CEO’s Guide to Gender Inequality from McKinsey & Company. I share the frustration of the authors, who ask “why is progress so slow?”.

In this analytically written yet personally candid post, Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks describes how Gender and Pay Inequality is Alive and Well in her professional world. Nothing quite helps illuminate inequity like details reinforced by facts and feelings.

One of the points Gini Dietrich made in her gender and pay inequality post, was ” there is nothing worse than another woman not supporting women.” In Career Restartup: Five Ways Women are Helping Each Other Get Back on Track, Betsey Guzior of BizWomen writes that “51 percent of working mothers — compared to 16 percent of working fathers — said they found it difficult to advance in their careers.” She proceeds to share five ways women who have taken extended leaves (such as parental leave) can re-enter the workforce successfully.

Although inequity still flourishes, we can help each other overcome it, one action at a time. {TWEET THIS}

Zooming out a bit from gender-based issues to general employee engagement concerns, I recommend The Role of Communication in Employee Experience and Employer Branding from Talent Culture. Nothing says it better than the second paragraph: “Clear workplace communication leads to team success.”

Lastly, this piece touches on my interests in communication, gender, and culture. If you have ever had to present to a multi-cultural audience, you may have discovered that what elicits hilarious laughter in the US may not have the same effect in Taipei! The suggestions in The Serious Business of Being Funny are excellent.

What have you read this week that made you think differently or laugh harder? Drop me a line at melissa@lamsonconsulting.com and let me know!

Image Credit: Fotolia Sergey Nivens

Three Ways Women Unintentionally Exclude Men

The other day I was in a meeting with a group of sales people. The conversation was energetic and lively with lots of great ideas bouncing around. I was watching this exchange and noticed something. Out of nearly a dozen people, there were only two men. And those men weren’t speaking much. Why? Because men and women communicate very differently.

The women in the room were having an open dialogue and effective interaction but their style unintentionally left the men out, causing them to shut down. Most likely, these women—and most others in the workplace—–aren’t aware that their natural tendencies can affect the feelings and participation of men. But being cognizant of these behaviors can help you be more inclusive.

Here are three ways women unintentionally exclude men in the workplace:

  1. Our communication patterns. Women are considered very collaborative so we tend to finish each other’s sentences and add onto each other’s points. We use a lot of filler words, words that are rooted in emotion such as “I feel,” or cheerlead, “Absolutely, great point!” Research has shown that we want to create a good environment, a sense of community and maintain positive relationships with the people in the room. Men, on the other hand, are more pragmatic and direct in their communication-style. It’s not that they don’t want a good atmosphere, but it isn’t quite as necessary. Women should consider giving more space and time for men to contribute to a conversation. We should aim to streamline our messages by dialing back the emotion or relationship-focused words. We don’t need to eradicate our style of communication but be aware and scale it back so everyone feels comfortable to participate.
  2. Competing with each other. Women want harmony—until competition enters the picture and then that harmony can break down in a bad way. While competition for men is viewed as natural and positive; for women, it’s widely seen as a negative force that can wreak havoc on the work environment. In my gender cooperation training, men have told me that they feel very uncomfortable when there’s competition between two women. For men, they can compete with a colleague, compartmentalize, and head out for a beer. For women, it’s a different story. Competition often erodes the effectiveness of the team and can even brew a toxic environment. If you see that competition is having a negative impact on the team, try to quickly resolve any conflict and move on. This way it won’t confuse men—and women—on the team and everyone can get back to working towards the same goal.
  3. Big thinking. When most women wake up in the morning, they’re thinking about the entire day ahead of them—all the way to bedtime. Men, on the other hand, often think about just the first twenty minutes. Does this ring true for you and your partner? Research backs it up. Mark Gungor has found that men and women’s brains work differently. His research has shown that women’s brains are more connected so when we’re thinking, more areas of the brain are involved. When we are considering a project at work, we think about its impact on all the stakeholders involved including ourselves and our professional and personal lives. Men, on the other hand, think linearly. Only one area of the brain is involved during thinking. (It’s important to note that a Stanford University study contradicts these findings and asserts that socialization is responsible for brain signaling). We can’t retrain our brains, but women can aim to be more present in the moment. We can try to shrink our decision-making process so that it does not encompass a multitude of aspects and angles—overwhelming both ourselves and our male colleagues. If we want to show the bigger picture to them, we should do so in a way that’s explicit—linearizing our multi-thinking process.

Women don’t need to entirely change who they are and how they do things in the workplace, but being more self-aware of how our behavior may impact the feelings and participation of our male counterparts and adapting our styles when appropriate, will help our working relationships.

In case you missed it, check out my LinkedIn article on ways men may behave sexist and how to avoid it.

Image Credit: Fotolia iofoto

Do You Need a Mentor or a Sponsor? 3 Ways to Find Out

Employee surveys have found that women believe there are far less equal opportunities in corporations for them than their male counterparts—meaning they get passed over for promotions and miss out on working for promising projects. As a result, many companies have established mentoring programs for women to navigate within organizations, network better, establish skills, be prepared for promotions, and feel supported.

Recently, the concept of the mentor has evolved into the concept of sponsor. Whereas mentors offer advice and help grow skills, the sponsors’ role is more to advocate for the individual—make introductions, put promotional opportunities in front of them and recommend that they be nominated for interesting projects. The sponsor is more of a direct line for advancement rather than a guide or teacher. They are an extra boost towards networking and self-promotion to women who are already advanced in their careers with a lot of skills and knowledge. For more information on self-promotion and networking, read this past blog post.

So, how do you know if you need a mentor or sponsor? Here are three questions to ask yourself to find out.

1) Are you interested in learning new skills and gaining knowledge about the business? If you answered yes, then you need a mentor.

2) Are you interested in a promotion or more visibility around a project? If you answered yes, then a sponsor is the right way for you.

3) Are you interested in having a more objective viewpoint on your career? Then, you need a mentor. On the other hand, a sponsor has more of a stake in your success since they are directly trying to help you succeed, so they may be helpful as well.

So, now that you know what you need, here are three ways to find the right person:

1) Start with your immediate manager. Has he or she supported and advocated for you? If so, then you should request to create a more formal structure around how he or she can mentor you, or sponsor your next move in the organization.

2) Get introduced to your manager’s manager. Another possibility if your immediate manager is not the right fit, or he or she doesn’t feel that they can be responsible for the advancement in your organization, is your manager’s manager. He or she can make introductions and will advocate for your visibility within your company.

3) Who inspires you? Finally, another option, is to choose someone who is inspiring to you—a role model. Think about a person, man or woman, that you feel presents themselves well within meetings, or within the company as a whole. Then make the ask.

As the person being mentored or sponsored, the onus is on you to keep the relationship on the right track. If there is not a structured program in your company, set up the times to meet either for coffee, lunch, or a walk. A half hour to an hour every week or two weeks is sufficient. Also, set the agenda for the meetings. You can even email it to them ahead of time. Mentorships and sponsorships offer invaluable opportunities to both parties involved. If your company doesn’t offer them, create one for yourself. It will certainly payoff.

Do You Want a Male or Female Boss – and Why?

Gender Cooperation Workshops

If you’ve ever checked out Gallup’s annual work and education poll, you know it always contains some fascinating statistics on how we really feel about our careers and employers. The 2014 study caught my eye, though, for one particular reason – the data illuminates the American preference for a male boss.

Here’s where we stand overall. 46 percent of Americans don’t care whether their boss is a man or a woman. Yet 33 percent prefer male bosses – and 20 percent prefer female bosses.

To drill into these preferences a little deeper, here are more results:

Men are more flexible than women on the matter; 58 percent of men have no preference, compared to 34 percent of women.
39 percent of women and 26 percent of men prefer a male boss.
Women are also more likely to prefer female bosses at 25 percent, compared with 14 percent of men.

For the record, this is quite a change from the 1953 Gallup poll. Back then, 66 percent of Americans said they preferred a male boss. (That gives you some idea of the challenges facing women leaders back in the 1950’s. Can you imagine managing a team where the majority of your staff preferred to report to a man instead?)

That 66 percent has been cut in half in today’s poll – but female bosses still need to deal with the fact that a third of the workforce may not want to report to them. Male bosses face the same reality with a fifth of the workforce. So it’s worth asking: what are the repercussions of these gender preferences, for both employees and managers?

Broadening Your Perspective as an Employee

If you have a specific gender preference for your ideal boss, you might be basing it on past experiences. Or you may simply feel you have a better rapport with a certain gender. Here’s my suggestion: make sure that your preference isn’t limiting your professional opportunities. Many people come into the workplace with certain assumptions about working with different age groups or cultures, only to discover those assumptions are dead wrong. If you’re avoiding a certain position because of the boss’s gender, put your expectations to the side and act on the opportunity.

My next piece of advice: let go of gender stereotypes. All too often, a male boss who criticizes staff can be seen as a stern taskmaster, pushing employees to do their best, while a female boss who does the same can be seen as irrational and shrill. Or an employee might expect a woman boss to be more understanding than a male boss about missing a meeting to care for a sick child. These biases can damage both your relationship with your boss and ultimately your career.

A more productive option: using neutral evaluation criteria to make sure you’re judging your boss fairly. Look at their management style and ask how you would perceive the same actions coming from the opposite gender. When you’re considering a new position, don’t worry about the gender of your potential boss. Instead, look at their track record in the company and consider factors such as the employees they’ve promoted. That history will help you understand their leadership style far more than their gender.

Coping With Gender Preferences as a Leader

If you’re a manager, you already know that figuring out staff issues can be a guessing game. You won’t necessarily know when a staff member expects you to be catty simply because you’re a woman, or thinks you’re weak for showing emotion as a male leader. Can you expect your team to admit these biases and preferences? Probably not – but you can deal with them proactively.

For instance, if you’re a man, mention the women you’ve mentored and promoted in the company. If you’re a woman, cultivate a rich network of male and female contacts and foster a positive reputation as a leader who’s objective and fair. Even LinkedIn testimonials can go far in helping potential employees see you as a boss they’d love to work for. Gender stereotypes may not be fair in the workplace, but with anticipation and some savvy reputation management, you can dismantle them before they have a chance to hurt your relationships.

In case you’re wondering, 51 percent of working Americans currently have a male boss while 33 percent have a female boss. Interestingly, 27 percent of those with a female boss say they would prefer a female boss if they got a new job, where only 15 percent of those with a male boss say the same. That tells us that the reality of having a female boss is more enjoyable than the stereotype – and that as more women attain leadership positions, gender preferences in the workplace could even out or disappear altogether.

Call me to host a speaking engagement or course on Gender Cooperation. See our programs in Creating a Gender Powerhouse here: GENDERCOOP

Getting What You Deserve: Are the Rules Different for Women?

By now you’ve no doubt seen the headlines splashed across social media: at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made some controversial remarks regarding women asking for raises.

His exact quote, in case you missed it, was this: “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise as you go along. That, I think, might be one of the initial ‘super powers,’ that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. It’s good karma. It will come back.”

The idea that women should sit back, collect “good karma” and have faith that they’ll be given a fair raise – eventually – stirred up considerable ire. After all, this is the era of Lean In, where women are encouraged to accelerate their careers straight into the C suite and beyond. And the fact that Nadella heads up a tech company made his comments especially tone-deaf, given the gender imbalance rampant in so many tech companies. Microsoft’s global workforce is only 29 percent women, a similar percentage to Google, Apple and other tech giants. Add in the fact that female computer scientists earn 89 percent of what their male counterparts earn, according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, and it’s no surprise that Nadella’s advice to “have faith” regarding compensation set off a firestorm.

But let’s be honest – this isn’t just a tech industry issue. It connects to a larger conversation across every field on how women should ask for promotions and raises. We’ve all heard the common wisdom that women simply don’t ask for enough money, that they don’t understand how to negotiate. Yet thanks to executive attitudes like Nadella’s, many women have experienced blowback when they do advocate for themselves.

Some women will tell you there are two sets of rules for getting ahead: one for men and one for women. While assertive men are often seen as confident go-getters and emerging leaders, assertive women can be seen as pushy and demanding. These women frequently encounter a double standard in the workplace; they’re expected to be forthright and persistent in dealing with clients and chasing down business, but passive when advocating for their career interests internally.

It’s a paradox that’s left many women uncertain of how they can obtain fair compensation without alienating their own leadership. But one fact has never been in question: playing passive can waste years of your career and cost you in myriad ways from job title to salary.

Getting Educated on Getting Ahead

The first step toward becoming an effective self-advocate is recognizing that it won’t always come naturally. Women who were raised to be conciliatory no matter what frequently dread looking “greedy” or “pushy.” If that rings an uncomfortable bell, consider getting coaching on asking for raises and resources. Don’t feel bad if these aren’t intrinsic skills for you; this kind of training will help you for the rest of your career.

One important skill: learning how to negotiate effectively. This isn’t just for job offers, but will help when you request more staff or ask to lead a prestigious project. One rule of thumb is to arm yourself with solid data. Do your homework, find our what your position is worth, and compile evidence that validates your claims and requests. If you’re part of a global team and answer to leaders with different cultural standards, study up in advance on what their expectations may be.

Another tip is to learn from both female and male colleagues. Many women focus exclusively on finding female mentors and advisors. While successful women can indeed offer valuable counsel on overcoming gender-based obstacles, you might learn just as much from observing the professional maneuvers of the men around you. You might not be privy to their private compensation discussions, but you can learn how they advertise their own worth both in and out of the company.

Finally, think about your personal brand in this context. Obviously you want to treat everyone well and build positive relationships with clients and colleagues. At the same time, be sure that you present yourself at all times as a valuable asset to the company. Being easy to work with is great; letting yourself be taken for granted is not. Make sure your interactions and reputation communicate your value.

In the end, the question of getting what you deserve is too situational to merit an easy answer. But we do know that women are on the rise when it comes to claiming leadership positions and the rewards that come with them – and by sharpening your skills, you can help light the way.

Succeeding as a Woman Doing Business Abroad

Creating Global Mindset

Your phone rings. It’s the CFO. Suddenly you’re booking a flight to Qatar in three days for an important conference. Or you’re promoted to director of the Asia-Pacific region. You’ll be leaving for a ten-day tour of meetings in countries from Malaysia to Japan where you’ll meet your new staff.

Whether your trip is to one country or an entire region, the key to success for women doing global business is preparation. Take the time to understand the business etiquette and local customs of the countries where you’ll be working and your new professional relationships and responsibilities will go that much more smoothly.

Sounds obvious, right? Yet time and again business travelers make the mistake of arriving blind in a foreign country. As a woman, what is important to know before grabbing your passport and laptop and hopping on an international flight?

Let’s say you’re headed into Japan. Business culture here is much more hierarchical than in the States, which means you need to know the rank of associates to interact with them appropriately. Another consideration: the custom for reaching out to new contacts. In some countries, it’s acceptable to call them directly; in others, you should approach their assistant or have a local contact make an introduction. Don’t wait until your first meeting to find out.

Since many cultures have gender-specific standards for business etiquette, make sure your reconnaissance includes customs regarding women. Take your clothing, for example. Your business wardrobe may not be a big deal in Sweden, but that changes in the Middle East, where standards of modesty are stricter. And don’t assume customs will hold true across an entire region. In one country, showing leg might be fine while showing your shoulder is not, with a very different standard in a neighboring country.

Another important consideration: transportation. Street safety and rules regarding sharing transportation with men will vary. Find out beforehand the safest and most appropriate methods for traveling to your hotel and to meetings, whether it’s an arranged car service, a taxi or another mode.

Communication can be a particularly delicate area. Understand expectations regarding how meetings are conducted, who should speak first or most, who sets the agenda and how negotiations are conducted. If you’re used to blurting out your ideas in meetings or boldly expressing dissent, you may need to hold back or find a more delicate approach in some cultures. The last thing you want is to accidentally offend an important colleague or client – an occurrence that happens way too often in international business dealings.

At the same time, you do want to make sure that your rank is understood. It’s not unheard of for visiting female executives to be perceived as assistants or junior associates in some cultures, so always try to find an appropriate way to establish your credentials and authority — especially in countries where professional women are rare. One tip: if there’s a specific region you’ll be visiting frequently, print up special business cards in English on one side and in the language of that country on the other so there can be no mistake about your job title. Also make sure that your male colleagues are aware of any cultural gender patterns and don’t undermine you in public, even unintentionally.

Finally, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that socializing in other countries can be a minefield. In the United States, we might casually invite a visiting colleague out for some local sightseeing; that might not be appropriate in another country. While building professional relationships is always a positive thing, the parameters of “work friendships” will vary from culture to culture.

Ditto with protocol for dining and drinks. One good rule of thumb is to socialize in groups whenever possible. If you need to have a business dinner with a male colleague, invite others to attend – preferably women from that culture. And don’t be surprised if, in some regions, you’ll do business with men all day but be segregated at women-only dinner tables that night.

Remember, all of this is part of a valuable education that will teach you how to understand your new teammates and work with them more effectively. Doing business internationally is always an enriching experience for any professional woman. Do your homework and you’ll be considered a success both at home and overseas.

10 Ways for Women to Talk with Male Colleagues

Gender Cooperation Workshops

In a recent blog post, I tackled how men can communicate with women in the workplace. It was well received, with a lot of interesting feedback coming my way – and not just from men. As the days passed, I started thinking that I should probably do a post for women, too.

Let me be clear: on a basic level, neither male nor female communication styles are inherently “wrong.” Often the misunderstandings come from assumptions about the intentions behind someone’s words and actions. For instance, a woman may perceive a male colleague as brusque and condescending, when his intention is to be efficient and decisive. A man may see a woman as trying too hard to include everybody, when her intention is to gain consensus on a complex business issue. That being said, and having already given you men some advice, I’m back with some tips for women.

1. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Women tend to take on more and more. Focus on prioritizing – doing fewer things better – and if you need to say no to a request or new project, do so with confidence, not apologies.

2. Stand up for yourself. Don’t be cowed by louder or more aggressive colleagues. Force yourself to speak up more and defend your point of view.

3. Be confident. In a new book, The Confidence Code, co-author Katty Kay says that the research shows confidence is more important than competence. And women tend to focus strongly on the latter.

4. Be “one of the guys.” A male-dominated culture often tends to be heavy on the jokes – and as long as what they’re saying isn’t offensive, play along a bit. If their sarcasm gets off-putting, it’s helpful to have a few sharp comebacks in your pocket.

5. Stick to the facts. Men are generally conditioned to act, and so their communication style tends to be more to the point. Keep it short and sweet and they’ll pay attention.

6. Be direct and use declarative statements. Women are more likely to phrase requests or opinions as suggestions or even questions, as opposed to men, who usually just tell it like it is. If you have something to say, just say it without qualifying it.

7. Be specific with feedback. This is especially important if you’re in a management role, many men are hard-wired tune out criticism. Rather than generalities, offer specific action items for them to act on.

8. Find common ground. Talking about your kids or a mutual interest in Wes Anderson movies can shift the way you communicate and create an overall better working relationship.

9. Be appropriately assertive in group situations. In a meeting or brainstorming session where everyone is throwing in ideas, make sure you jump right in. Women often wait to be “invited” to join the conversation or asked their thoughts, whereas men are apt to just throw ideas out there.

10. Don’t take things personally. Men do make blunders in communicating with women, but for the most part they don’t actively try to alienate their female colleagues. Don’t take perceived tactlessness personally. But do feel free to treat it as a coaching moment.