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Understanding The Opposite Sex

Improve communications with the opposite sex by understanding what's really being said.

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Ah, the age-old problem of miscommunication between men and women. You might think that once you and your significant other separate for the workday, your gender woes are over. Unfortunately, they're only starting.

"For those primarily working with [the opposite sex,] you can [improve] almost all your interactions if you learn to speak some of the other gender's language," says Judith C. Tingley, co-author with Lee E. Robert of GenderSell: How to Sell to the Opposite Sex (Simon & Schuster). Likening such gender differences to speaking Greek among the Spanish, Tingley provides the following advice for dealing with the opposite sex in your business:

1. He says/She says: "I need more time to think before I purchase your product or service."

Translation: He doesn't need as much time, so offer him a sooner and definite follow-up time so he knows you're eager and interested in the sale. She really does need more time, especially if it's a high-ticket item. Tell her you'll call in a few weeks so she doesn't feel pressured.

2. He says/She says: "I'm taking my business elsewhere because you lost my last order."

Translation: He'll be a tough sell. For him, price and service are more important than the business relationship. Be ready to bargain and compromise to keep his business. She may change her mind, depending on the length and quality of your business relationship. "The relationship itself has value to her that may supersede the quality of service at least once," says Tingley.

3. He says/She says: "I'm putting you on probation because your work hasn't been up to par lately."

Translation: His ego will be somewhat bruised, but the key with him is to be concise and matter-of-fact-and don't worry if he doesn't like you for it. If you deliver the news properly and drop the subject if the probation period goes well, he'll respect you as a boss.

She'll take the news much more personally, so dish it out, as Tingley suggests, with "a few more pats on the back."

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