I was bought up believing in the mars venus principle.  That the reason for many arguments, divorces and possibly even wars was because men and women don’t understand each other.  They speak a different language.

I no longer believe that.

Or rather, it’s not about men and women specifically.  It’s that PEOPLE don’t understand each other and that’s not because I’m trying to be politically correct.

Today I spoke to a woman who is having trouble at work.   She is from France, working for an American company running an important department in their London office.

So already we are dealing with two different languages (three if you count the fact that Americans can’t spell properly) and three different cultures.  American law, for example, is incredibly different from English law and I happen to have extensive experience of how pro employee French law is.  There are so many potentials for miscommunications that it’s a credit to all of them that she’s been running a very successful sales team for over three years.

Which makes it hard to understand why they’ve just told her that they have appointed a new head of sales, even though she is already (and is still) the head of sales, without telling her why.

They may, for example, think that it’s obvious that this is because she is now going to be made up to be the MD of the UK arm, so they didn’t feel the need to tell her.

Or they may be hoping that she’ll take offence and leave, not realising that even if she does, she would have the right to bring a claim for unfair constructive dismissal, which is not something that I believe exists in the US.

Or perhaps they know that she will leave, but they may also know that she has a duty to mitigate her losses by taking all reasonable steps to find suitable alternative employment and that she will find another job fairly easily, so that the value of her claim is actually quite low, so the risk is equally low.

Of course, if the reality is that she is about to be promoted, but she doesn’t know that and quits in a huff, the employer will have lost a valuable member of staff and created bad feeling in her department.

Conversely, if the reality is that they want to get rid of her, but she doesn’t take the hint, she could stay on for another six months or so, creating an atmosphere of hostility until things come to a head, which can be even more costly than if they had just fired her and taken the consequences.

Working relationships are no different from personal relationships.  If you can’t communicate clearly and effectively, you must expect that sometimes your actions will be misinterpreted, with unexpected, and sometimes costly consequences.  If your partner asks you if their bum looks big in that dress, is giving an honest answer (yes it does) better than not wanting to hurt their feelings (you look gorgeous in everything) or an answer that sidesteps the issue (why are you wearing my dress!!!!).

If you have someone in your life that you value, make sure they know that they are valued, and encourage open communication, which means that things you do and say are much less likely to be misinterpret.

If you feel that your relationship with someone is coming to an end, make sure you take legal advice before adopting any strategy to bring things to a head.  There can be safe and cost effective ways to part company or to at least make it as safe and cost effective as possible.

If you think you’d look better in one of my dresses than I do, then let me know, but you can’t borrow my killer heels – no one can pull that off as well as I do!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Speaking fluent Martian and Venusian.