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KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
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Learn to communicate better

The fact that men and women differ in their relational styles is nothing new. Plenty of books, from “Sex on the Brain: The Biological Difference Between Men and Women” and the “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” series introduced the concept into popular culture.

Now, “Code Switching: How to Talk so Men Will Listen” brings it into the boardroom. Authors Claire Damken Brown and Audrey Nelson have doctoral degrees, as well as experience in corporate consultation, with an emphasis on communication.

The title suggests that women are going to have to learn how to adapt to a man’s world, but the book goes deeper. It honors both styles of communication and provides tips for women to effectively get their messages across at work, without giving up their femininity.

It does point out such discrepancies and biases, such as how women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns and how women are seen as meek followers who shouldn’t get angry, lest they incur the “B” word.

But it quickly moves into the solution of how women can use language (both body and verbal) to build their credibility rather than reduce it. It points out how women use communication to build rapport while men often use it simply to report the facts – and how this translates into e-mail interactions.

The book also addresses nonverbal communication, clothing, asking for what you deserve, rising up the corporate ladder, networking and mentoring, workplace humor, bullying and sexual harassment, as well as negotiating love relationships in the office.

The goal of the book is not to judge, but rather to gain insight into men’s and women’s different communication styles, make informed choices on how to communicate and then “consciously (mix) it up using both the male and female communicating styles to produce an overall androgynous, synergistic approach,” as the authors put it.