by Jeanie Litteken

I remember the first time I asked Rod if I could speak with him about a problem I was experiencing. He was willing to discuss the situation but I was perplexed as to why he stood beside me! I moved to stand face to face with him as I explained my problem, and he moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with me!

I thought this was very strange behavior. I found myself questioning his interest. As I began to know Rod better, I learned that he was a sincere guy, so I just accepted his body stance – without understanding it. l later learned GenderSpeak held the answer to my question! Research has shown that most men are comfortable conversing while standing shoulder to shoulder and that most women are more comfortable having conversations while standing face to face. When men have a face to face verbal exchange, it is most likely a confrontational experience! Recently I presented a keynote address to a group of business owners and executives. Knowing Rod would attend, I asked him if he would help me demonstrate how nonverbal body language can affect communication between genders. As we discussed the particulars of the demonstration, he remarked, “Oh, you want me to be the example of what NOT to do.” I watched him relax as I explained that his natural tendency was not only acceptable but also normal. The fact is something as simple as body position can prevent effective communication between men and women. Understanding this simple difference in gender culture can positively impact workplace communication.