For centuries, society defined differences between male and females through a sexism lens and society believed that men were stronger, brighter, and more astute than women. However, as time went by, the concept of gender equality has been widely introduced, and this has decreased the possibilities of realizing what constitutes the differences between men and women. Men and women are incredibly different when it comes to their physical attributes, but what remains under investigation is the reason for the two genders being extremely different mentally, emotionally, and even in their communication. This paper aims to explore the differences in communication styles between men and women as well as the factors that result in these differences.
There are significant differences between how men and women communicate, and there are multiple shows, researches, jokes, and life experiences reflecting on this premise to prove the alluded differences. According to an article by Boston (2015), the communication difference between these two genders results from the perception that men are more likely to be action-oriented while women tend to be more discussion oriented. The reason for this can be traced back in to childhood days through the methods in which relationships were formed and fostered. Often, when females are looking to build friendships, their primary focus is to get to communicate to make connections (Boston, 2015). Because the main focus is on communication, it, therefore, means that talking is the essential thing in the process. Girls tend to be much more open in sharing their fears, struggles, experiences, and secrets.
Men, on the other hand, use a different approach when it comes to making friends. They too make genuine connections like women, but they form and develop the relationships differently. Men tend to form big groups which focus more on collective actions rather than conversation. Coates (2015) observes that talks between adult women involve more emotions, sharing problems, and making decisions. Most of the discussions between women revolve around the men in their lives. Contrary to this, conversations between adult men remain action-oriented to achieve a specific objective or fulfill a certain goal (Coates, 2015). To men, they view small talk as a waste of time, and when conversations do not focus on achieving some goal, they then become meaningless to them.
In terms of conflict resolutions, how men and women resolved disputes was also determined by traditional gender expectations and definitions. Women have always been regarded as nurturers, caregivers, and peacemakers. Women tend to value long-lasting relationships with their families and close relations and are more emotional when it comes to conflict resolution. Men, on the other hand, have always been regarded as providers and protectors. They believe that they need to resolve disputes fast and effectively to ensure that their families are protected from future harm. This social perception translates to the workplace.
In research by Patricia Gwartney-Gibbs (2015), she aimed to study how conflict process and disputes are affected by gender. Results of her study revealed that although men and women experienced problems at work, women experienced more personality disputes and seemed to be overly sensitive to them as compared to men. Additionally, Gibbs found that gender also affected the way that disputes were handled by management. For example, when men got in to conflicts with each other, management was more likely to find effective mechanisms to resolve them, but when women got in to disputes, they were more likely to get transferred laterally instead of trying to fix the disputes (Gwartney-Gibbs, 2014). According to these results, women experience disputes differently than men at the workplace, their conflicts are different than how men’s are, and outcomes are different for both groups. The study also found that women tended to talk more about the context of the conflict and focused more on their relationship with the opposing party. Men, on the other hand, used more narrow, legalistic, and rational language to converse about their disputes.
Lastly, when it comes to listening, women and men tend to do it differently. Larry Barker and Kittie Watson in their book titled ‘Listen Up’ argue that men and women use different listening strategies. Men tend to be more action-oriented during the listening process and only focus on information that relates to the matter at hand. It, therefore, means that men have little tolerance for listening to people who divert from the main topic. Women, on the other hand, are more people-oriented when it comes to listening (Barker and Watson, 2011). They often connect with the message emotionally and look out for undertones in the message. Women are more focused on the outcome of the conversation as opposed to the depth of the message being passed across. The authors contend that women express their responsiveness with remarks such as ‘yeah,’ ‘I see’ or ‘oh yes.’ Men on the other hand are silent listeners who only interject a conversation when seeking clarification. Women often think that men do not listen, while men believe women over-listen. However, Gilligan (2015) argues that the difference in listening styles between the genders goes beyond perception. The study found that the left hemisphere of the brain became activated in men during a listening process, while both the right and left hemispheres in women became activated (Gilligan, 2015). These results explain why women were more emotional because the right hemisphere is more concerned with triggering emotions.
In conclusion, despite all the perceptions and research about gender differences in communication, there is no factual evidence showing that members of either gender are better at communication. Men and women can communicate equally well, and the ability to communicate is more about individual distinctions as opposed to gender-related.
Barker, L. L., & Watson, K. W. (2011). Listen Up: What You’ve Never Heard About the Other Half of Every Conversation: Mastering the Art of Listening. Macmillan.
Boston, S. (2015, April). Communication Differences Between Men and Women. In 2015 ASCRS ASOA Symposium and Congress. Ascrs.
Coates, J. (2015). Women, men, and language: A sociolinguistic account of gender differences in language. Routledge.
Gilligan, C. (2015). The Listening Guide method of psychological inquiry.
Gwartney-Gibbs, P. A., & Lach, D. H. (2015). Gender and workplace dispute resolution: A conceptual and theoretical model. Law & Soc’y Rev., 28, 265.