Ask Alignor

Is there a difference between how women and men deal with other people?

It is generally not a good idea to rely on broad statements or preconceptions about how men and women supposedly deal with other people. Each individual develops his or her own approach to dealing with others based on a wide variety of factors. From the time we are babies, we develop our own tendencies, habits and patterns in our dealings with others. At the same time, our societies and cultures undoubtedly have a strong impact on how we perceive ourselves and each other, including how we should deal with others. These social and cultural biases can often be found to influence men and women in different ways. For example, the same assertive behavior in a man may be perceived as demonstrating “leadership” skills whereas a woman acting the same way might be deemed “pushy” or inappropriately aggressive. Because of these factors, some women may have concerns about being perceived as unduly aggressive and may compensate by trying to be overly collaborative. Similarly, where men are rewarded for aggressive behavior, some men may develop a bias toward more competitive behavior. It is important, however, when you are negotiating with people not to fall into the trap of lumping them into certain categories or personality “types” based on their gender or other immutable traits. The best way to understand how a given person deals with others is to observe their behavior, talk with them, and try to understand the underlying interests that drive their decision-making.