Distinctive Communication Styles of Men and Women Introduction Gender distinctions are evident behaviorally and physically. There is a difference in the way men and women talk, act, feel and think. Indeed, the distinctive ways in which men and women communicate is one of the most outstanding differences between them. The two sexes, in every context, have unique styles of conveying their feelings and thoughts.
Communication differences come about because language and communication are learned behavior that develops by means of a blend of nurture and nature, environmental stimulation and genetic predisposition. Additionally, children learn how to converse from their peers and parents and often, they copy from their same-sex models. Tannen, in her book entitled “You Just Don’t Understand”, argues that even if boys and girls are brought up in the same house, on the same block or in the same locality, they grow up in different words or worlds.
These communication differences between the two sexes begin at very early stage. According to her, these sex differences in ways of communicating are evident even in three-year-old children, about the time when language is developed. While they want to get their way, both girls and boys use language differently to do so. She explains that while little boys talk to boast, little girls often talk to be liked. Little boys make demands. little girls make requests. Little boys prolong conflict. little girls speak to build harmony. Little boys talk directly. little girls talk more indirectly. Additionally, while little boys use more actions, little girls talk more with words (Kelley, 2010).
Recently, there has been the study of men and women’s communication styles scientifically and researchers as well as linguists have documented the apparent distinctions that characterize gender communication. Tannen, a well-respected linguistics scholar and professor who has carried out research and written books regarding gender communication, asserts that women and men express themselves differently and for different reasons. These differences in communication are evident during opposite gender and same gender conversation, during one-on-one and small group communications.
Women and men express gender communication distinctions in style, structure and content. Women often talk about feelings, relationships and people while men most often discuss money, sports and business. Women most often express themselves/talk to connect, to understand and to support while men often talk for competition, to resolve or fix problems.
While talking, women are more apologetic, vague and detailed while men are usually precise and to the point – they do not use descriptive details. Another difference that characterizes gender communication is that men and women use body language differently. Men gesture less dramatically, keep their distance and rarely establish eye contact while women gesture more frequently, stand in close proximity to whomever they are speaking and maintain eye contact. While men use nonverbal communication indirectly women normally it use directly (Kelley, 2010).
There also exists a difference in the way women and men handle conflict in that while men apply conflict to gain status, women avoid it with the aim of insuring intimacy. Women often use words to build rapport, to express feelings or to connect themselves emotionally (rapport – talk) while men share figures and facts like in a report (report – talk). According to research, women talk more in private while men talk more in public.
This is because if women talk to establish closeness/maintain intimacy, most female conversation would take place in private, at home. Conversely, if men talk to provide information, to establish status from others, to maintain independence and negotiate status in a hierarchical social order, most of their conversation would inevitably occur in public, at the workplace (Tannen, 1991).
Gray, in his book ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ alludes that communication between women/Venusians and men/Martians is cross-cultural communication. He suggests that the two sexes not only communicate in such different ways, but they have very little in common such that it is as if they are from completely different planets – struggling to understand each other. Gray argues that consistent and significant disparities in women and men’s communication styles exist. According to him, when it comes to communication, universal differences between women and men are evident.
Another distinction that characterizes gender communication is that while men have a tendency of interrupting more and are more resistant to asking questions, women are more likely to agree with others and to ask questions. Women, as opposed to men are less likely to frame other people’s arguments and to challenge the statements of others. While women have a tendency of softening their statements and demands, men have a tendency of being more direct (Tannen, 1991).
Gender communication is vital in public speaking as well as in interpersonal interaction and the way one communicates can impede the comprehension of the message. In deed, different though not large conversational styles among men and women exist and recognizing and understanding their distinctive communication styles is therefore important and it should help them in adapting and understanding differences in gender communication.
Although personal communication styles maybe comfortable, adaptation to gender communication encourages corporate harmony as well as individual growth. As women and men identify communicative styles’ differences better, they can consciously make adjustments and endeavor to improve the way they communicate with their counterparts, thereby understanding each other better. I therefore disagree with the statement that men are from Venus and women are from Mars, which indicates that men and women have very little in common such that it is as if they are from completely different planets – struggling to understand each other.
I believe that if obstacles to gender communication can be broken women and men can learn so much from each other. I also agree with Ahmad that most of differences in communication styles these are independent of gender. Although there are average tendencies in the manner in which men and women communicate, these generalizations are surely not valid to all men as well as all women as some women fit the communication characteristics described as common to men and some men fit the characteristics described as common to women.
Ahmad, K. Z. (2010): Mars, Venus and Gray: Gender Communication. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3AZP_arANLh00J%3Awww.ccsenet.org%2Fjournal%2Findex.php%2Fibr%2Farticle%2Fview%2F4383%2F4519+distinctive+communication+styles+of+men+and+women+-+book+result&hl=en&gl=ke
Gray, J. (1992): Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. New York: Harper Collins.
Kelley, R. H. (2010): Communication between Men and Women in the Context of the Christian Community. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.cbmw.org/Resources/Articles/Communication-between-Men-and-Women