Women and men may have similar experiences, expertise, educational background, or work in the same environment but they have different approaches to communication. The differences in their communication styles can sometimes affect relationships by causing misunderstandings.
One of the differences in communication style used by men and women is seen in how they give orders. Several women are associated with the culture of relationship harmony. Studies indicate that women try to soften their statements and demands when giving orders (Gray, 2014). However, men are more direct in their approach to giving orders. Another difference between male and female communication styles is on information and emotions. Women always like joining through conversations (Gray, 2014).
On the other hand, men prefer connecting through action. When a woman wants to communicate, she often wants to express her thoughts and emotions to other people but on the contrary, men talks when they want to disclose or share their suggestions or ideas. Women are more likely to talk to others about their problems or when they need to make a decision. This is a different case to men who tend to keep their problems to themselves and do not often prefer sharing their concerns. However, this does not mean that men do not talk about their feelings. They can, only that most of them may be uncomfortable sharing (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2015).
Men and women have different patterns of conversation. While conversing, women tend to punctuate their conversation using positive noises such as ‘ok’ to pass a message that she is concentrating on what you are discussing. Men, on the contrary, prefer sitting quietly and focusing on what is being said or explained. This, however, does not indicate that men do not agree or disagree with what is being said (Gray, 2014). When talking to a man, one should not be discouraged, feel weird or nervous when he/she does not get responses back.
Another crucial difference in the patterns of communication between men and women is evident in the concept of asking questions. Asking questions during a conversation may mean different thing to men and women. The differences exist in when and how the questions should be asked. This often causes a lot of confusion in most workplaces. In many cases, men tend to ask question majorly with one intention in mind, to collect more information or seeking clarification on a point they do not get well. This is a difference for most women because they tend to ask questions for two primary purposes. First of all, they ask questions to gather more information regarding a response, task, or issue or seek more clarification on something they did not understand clearly. Secondly, women tend to ask questions whose answers they already have (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2015). They like testing people. As mentioned above women often prefer maintaining harmony in relationships with other peoples. As a result, they tend to show interest in what others have said to fertilize their relationships (Heartman & McCambridge, 2014). This is why women often ask more questions in business than men.
Different styles of communication among men and women are a good thing, especially in the workplace. But the problem with it comes when the differences mentioned above causes misunderstandings as well as misinterpretation of words or personalities. This can ultimately unsettle the teamwork and harmony required in a workplace setting. The best approach to resolving this is for the members to understand one another, their style of communication, and most importantly, appreciate and value the aspect of diversity. Doing this will enhance the reduction of conflicts or misunderstandings in a workplace or group setting.
Gray, J. (2014). Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus: Practical guide for improving communication. Zondervan.
Hartman, J. L., & McCambridge, J. (2014). Optimizing millennial’s communication styles. Business Communication Quarterly, 74(1), 22-44.
Ting-Toomey, S., & Chung, L. C. (2015). Understanding intercultural communication. New York: Oxford University Press.