How to Understand the Differences in the Way Men and Women Communicate
Men and women are so different in the means of communication that it is almost as if they speak separate languages.
Communication is one of the most important skills a human being can possess. In order to have fulfilling careers, relationships and even marriages people need to learn how to communicate with each other. For some people, this comes easy; however for most of us, communication is difficult especially when dealing with a member of the opposite sex. This is because men and women do not speak the same language.
What causes men and women to speak differently? In the article “The Different Using of Language Between Sexes” Zheng Baohua takes a social approach to the question by analyzing three aspects of communication; different diction, different syntactic approach and different communicative strategies.
In discussing the differences in dictation, consider that women reflect more sentimentality when they speak than men do. Women do not typically use profanities in their speech whereas men do, at the same time women use words of praise like good, excellent and wonderful and men usually do not. When speaking, women often try to make the others feel happy whereas men just want to show how wonderful they themselves are.
The syntactic differentiations between males and females deal with directive speech. Men often use directive phrases such as “do this now” and women will be more indirect saying something like “why don’t we do this for awhile?” Women are taught to be more ladylike, and speak gracefully, softly and less forceful.
When communicating, women are active participants in a conversation. While women ask questions to facilitate the flow of conversation, men compete to express their views and are eager to dominate the conversation. When it comes to linguistics, women speak softer, are more polite and more feminine women also seem more thoughtful in conversation and put more effort into the conversation than men do. Men’s speeches however, are more forceful and convincing. Apparently these factors are evident because women are emotional while men are more rational in characteristics. Because socially, men are dominant and women are subordinate these differences often reflect in communication.
In his article “Why are Women so Strange and Men so Weird?” Bruce Christopher insists that great communicators know how to speak the language of the opposite sex. Christopher explains that men and women have different rules of etiquette which can unintentionally create frustration and misunderstandings in our relationships. For instance when a woman at a restaurant turns to one of her female companions and asks for her friend to accompany her to the restroom; this is socially acceptable whereas a man would not ask this of another male companion. Christopher says that different rules for men and women apply in our society.
In ordering presentations, men give the “bottom-line” first, while women give the “bottom-line” last supported by a historical narrative approach. Women are often complaining because men do not communicate with them and tell them what is going on in their life, for example when a woman asks her husband how his day was and he responds by simply saying “fine” instead of giving a historical narrative approach supported by details as the woman expects. The fact is, we use language in different ways, men use communication to report facts while women use communication to build rapport connections.
Women pick up on hidden meanings and read between the lines while men hear the literal translation of the message. Christopher touches on the direct/indirect approach by stating that women suggest while men demand. Even little boys will say “Let’s do this” while little girls will suggest “Why don’t we do this” According to Bruce Christopher, if men and women would learn the gender specific dialects of each other they could communicate more effectively. In order to do this, men would have to increase historical narrative when speaking with women and women would have to put the “bottom-line” first when speaking to men.
Another interesting take on this topic comes from Phyllis Coopers article “The Stress of Life: Are Men and Women Really Different?” which deals with differences in the way men and women deal with stress through communication. The article states that men often respond to stress initially in the fight-or-flight mode, meaning they get in there and tackle the situation sometimes without thinking, or they get away from it. Women, tackle the initial stress through thinking about the situation or discussing it with other women. Most of the time both genders will use a combination of “fight-or-flight” and “tend-and-befriend, however the differences are that women will discuss the stress, the situation, what to do about it, who is involved and how to handle it while men will initially solve the problem or remove themselves from it. Often times, when men do get together in groups in order to deal with stress, they usually do not talk about the actual stress but instead focus on “guy talk” or the sports game they are watching.
Zheng Baohua (2007). The Different Using of Language Between Sexes/DE L'UTILISATION DIFFÉRENTE DE LA LANGUE ENTRE LES DEUX SEXES. Canadian Social Science, 3(4), 61-63. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1590141551).
Bruce Christopher (2008, February). Why Are Women So Strange and Men So Weird? Business Credit, 110(2), 4-6,8. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1428319741).
Phyllis G Cooper (2007). The Stress of Life: Are Men and Women Really Different? Nursing Forum, 42(3), 107-8. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1325137721).