Today, as every Valentine’s Day, a lot of men across the nation are trying to make the women in their lives extra happy. They’re buying flowers and chocolates. They’re making reservations at fancy restaurants. But the truth is, for most women, small everyday actions are the way to their hearts. This goes for women in your personal life, as well as, in your professional life.
With that in mind, here are 14 tips for making women in your workplace happy:
1. Be authentic in every interaction. Nothing creates awkwardness like a coworker who thinks you’re trying to be something you’re not.
2. Use the right phrase. If a woman in your workplace says she had a bad day, don’t try to fix it. Ask her if she wants to talk about it. (For more tips on the right things to say, check out my Love Deck which is a set of flash cards with scenarios and best and appropriate responses.)
3. Listen. Ask more questions in conversations, and comment to show you’re engaged and interested.
4. Don’t worry about how you’re being perceived by others. Focus on building relationships and learning from your coworkers to create the best possible results.
5. Praise coworkers on their professional abilities or share a technique that’s brought you success. Remember tip 3–listen more than talk.
6. Identify topics to talk about like world news, culture and industry trends rather than relying on typical small talk about work and sports. Family is always a safe area. Parents love to talk about their kids and this can provide you with common ground to bond over.
7. Don’t view attractive female colleagues as something to be avoided (or pursued). Think of them as sisters or girls you grew up with and treat them like anyone else.
8. Don’t assume your new female contact is less accomplished or educated, or needs your assistance. What you might view as “help” might be perceived as condescension. Get to know her background and treat her as a peer, not a subordinate.
9. Women prefer to discuss solutions as a team. Be prepared to brainstorm and gather ideas. The process is as important as the outcome.
10. Thoughtful gestures will go a long way. Remembering a birthday or grabbing your colleague a cup of coffee when you’re getting one for yourself will be greatly appreciated.
11. Be aware that women communicate differently than men do. They may suggest a solution when asking a question.
12. Women sometimes view competition as negative, especially with other women. You might want to instigate more of a win-win policy in the team.
13. Think before you make jokes or use humor that might be offensive. If you question saying it at all, it’s probably not a good idea.
14. When asking a female colleague to do a task for you, you might take a less authoritative approach and instead ask her for help. This will be perceived as more collaborative.
Remember, most of your coworkers want to minimize awkward moments, too. Authentic and positive work relationships benefit everyone. And, if you reach out to women in your workplace and industry in a thoughtful and respectful way, that’s exactly what you’ll build.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.