Men Vs Women in Business – The Apprentice UK Highlights Communication Styles
Series 5 of The Apprentice UK started recently. As seems to have become de rigueur in this reality show, the candidates vying for the position of Sir Alan Sugar’s apprentice were divided into teams based on gender.
We all know that men are from Mars and women from Venus, but do these differences carry through into the boardroom?
Let’s look at communication styles, as this is an issue that is core to conducting successful business. When it comes to a show like The Apprentice, how well one communicates in the boardroom can also make the difference between being fired and getting another chance to prove oneself worthy of a position in Sir Alan Sugar’s company.
Men tend to focus on the salient points of a matter. They pull out the key points, set up a framework for the issue and then elaborate on those points as necessary. Women, however, tend to allow for much more complexity, and try to understand issues based on the nuances and details of a situation. As a result, women tend to want to explain the context of a matter before outlining the key points.
Women also tend to focus more on establishing connections with others through their communication whereas men tend to focus purely on conveying information and establishing status.
When it comes to communication regarding success and failure, men and women seem to attribute responsibility differently. Men tend to accept responsibility for their success and blame external factors for their failure, whereas women tend to accept responsibility for their failure and attribute success to external factors.
Any discussion regarding gender differences in the workplace is, however, about averages. There are no unequivocal statements, just, as expressed above, tendencies towards behavioural styles, and it is worth acknowledging that there is perhaps more variation within each gender than between genders.
Watching The Apprentice UK certainly highlights this point. On the whole, both the male and female candidates are competitive and driven, and as such they seem to have very similar aggressive communication styles. They have, of course, been specifically selected out of a large pool of applicants for the show, and it is therefore to be expected that they will display more similarities in approach.
The fact that the women candidates in The Apprentice UK tend not to conform to female communication stereotypes (with a few exceptions) means that they are unlikely to begin their communications with tentative statements such as “This may be a silly question, but…” or “You may already know this, but…”. As a result, the female candidates are more likely to be seen by their male counterparts as serious competition for the role.
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