Code Switching Solves Workplace Communication in 2020

Women were code switching and men were listening.

Posted Jan 26, 2016

The term "code switching" refers to having knowledge of both the male and female cultures or languages and readily swapping between them as you communicate.

Hold onto your hat! Here’s my best estimate on future changes in 2020. Now there are more women CEOs: 15.6 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women (up from 2.4 percent in 2008). They have cracked the gender communication codes. Collaboration is the key for successful workplace managers. Fewer workplace-related ailments arise because work stresses are a thing of the past. Most people are working in careers not just jobs where they feel encouraged and welcomed; they learn, produce, and contribute more than years ago. In 2020 men and women work side by side, mentoring each other so they and their company succeed. Businesses regularly offer workshops on how to listen. Women and men are more self-aware of their choices in how they communicate with each other.

How is this all possible? Code switching is the answer. It became the rage 10 years ago. Women wanted to better themselves and their communication in the workplace. They used their code-switching skills to improve communication with their male colleagues. Women were code switching and men were listening. They still are, to this day. Women know how to value their own communication style and when to use it to get across a message and achieve their goals. They know how and when to use different communication styles to suit their needs.

In 2020 the feminine and masculine styles of leadership have become more blended. Men and women alike have learned to draw from a vast pool of communication skills to successfully lead in different situations. The popular code-switching behaviors have given birth to the code-switching communication style. This new way of communicating encourages women to select a communication style they are comfortable with that gets their messages accurately to their coworkers. In the past, the male and female communication and leadership styles were fairly distinct. The new code-switching leadership style blends the two styles into a more synergistic approach to leadership and communication. It’s dynamic and ever-changing, based on its code-switching roots. Men listen to this style. Women listen, too. This style has cracked the past gender communication codes wide open. The code-switching communication and leadership style is strong and soft, aggressive and straightforward, compassionate and not afraid of emotions. Flash back to the present.

We know that women and men bring different leadership approaches and communication styles to the office. Different is good. We don’t all want to be the same that would be boring. One is not better than the other they’re just different. Psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists have recognized this fact for centuries. But these differences contribute to the “potholes” in which we often find ourselves when trying to talk to male peers and bosses. Despite these distinctions, however, working relationships between men and women do thrive. They become rocky only when both genders fail to hear the differences for what they are behaviors and have certain rigid expectations of how the two sexes should communicate. How do we move forward and create a new future of gender communication?

Stop the Blame Game

Our natural tendency is to believe that men are the ones who need to change. We think they are the ones with the problem. But women must start with themselves. We each have a responsibility in the communication process. We may not be able to control the other person’s communication style, but we can manage our own. Blaming men gets us nowhere. Although we sometimes enjoy a good pity party, using a few salty words to describe the boss and his ineptness doesn’t get us anywhere. In fact, it seems to move us further from our goals. A short venting keep it to 10 minutes may alleviate the knot in your stomach, but keep your focus on moving forward. Take responsibility for your own communication. It may not completely prevent communication misunderstandings, but it can help prevent breakdowns and minimize out-of-control situations. Make the choice to stop the blaming and move forward to your fabulous future.

Self-Awareness and Self-Consciousness

Communication self-awareness is the first step toward enhancing effective communication. That may appear difficult, since communication often operates at a stealth level of existence we leave an interaction feeling that something happened, but we’re not exactly sure what. One of the reasons we are so bad at this critical skill is simply that most of us do not know about these sex differences and how they operate. To narrow the chasm between the sexes, we need to turn our attention to this decisive part of gender interactions.

Why be self-aware and understand communication components? Because in the workplace, as well as during the countless errands that consume our day, we continually experience communication mini-disasters, often unintended. At work, subtle microinequities and disrespectful behaviors that support the business infrastructure occur every day between men and women. The consequences of these behaviors maintain the glass ceiling or sticky floor and ultimately result in less earning potential for women. Women are still falling off the glass cliff.

In my work, I've seen smart, hard-working, well-intentioned women self-destruct because they are just plain unaware of what they and others are communicating. Although we may not always get the results we want in an encounter, knowing how gender communication works will increase women’s effectiveness and enhance all our interactions between men and women.

It’s always helpful to understand your communication and leadership styles and how others see you. Women and men must consider new ideas of what it means to be male and female. When women and men embrace the journey by observing gender communication at the office and questioning the traditional conventions that our culture and society have accepted, we will be better able to reach out to, respect, and understand each other.

The corporate world is a more enjoyable and fulfilling place when you have the right toolkit. And that toolkit your toolkit is full of code switches lining your path to career success.

We want you to be reflective. We want you to become more self-aware about how you interact with men. Self-knowledge is critical to your success. Communication is key. Knowing men’s receptivity to certain communication patterns can make or break a deal or career.

The time is right to crack that gender communication code and use your code-switching communication skills. Men and women will continue to work side by side. And the times are changing. More women are entering senior-level positions and need to know how to bring men over to their side.

Audrey Nelson
Source: Audrey Nelson