Gender Communication Differences

Men and women communicate in different ways and about different things, this postulate is accepted as true by many people. Women use conversation basically to establish intimacy and relationship, while men use it to gain status. The best seen differences in communication between men and women are in listening, verbal and non-verbal communication. Most men do not listen to all words in a conversation and ask fewer questions. Women are more active and good listeners and more responsive in their verbal communication.

Although being equal as human beings, men and women differ in the way they communicate with others. Men tend to be controlling, independent and dominant. Women are sensitive, loving and warm in their personal relations, in particular in their roles as wives and mothers.

Gender communication differences begin in childhood. Girls are more advanced physically in childhood and mature sooner. Boys are more active physically. They prefer to play in groups and have lots of friends. Girls have less close friends. Girls are better in reading comprehension and in vocabulary. Boys are more aggressive particularly in verbal offence. Boys get involved in more risky adventures than girls. They tend to be more independent and to stay away from teachers. Girls are more dependent and complying with their parents' and teachers' requirements.

Women usually make decisions on mutual agreement. They are keener on sharing problems, on showing sympathy and listening to others. Women more often express themselves in private and not in public. They are more concerned about feelings and are looking for closeness. Women view others as peers. They prefer cooperation, collaboration and interdependency.

Men predominantly seek position and status, seeing others as rivals. They tend to be dominating in decision making and seek to express themselves in public. Men usually keep their concerns to themselves. They focus on details and seldom ask for advice or help, but are almost always ready to give advice. Men usually tend to independence and want more space.

One of the main differences between men and women in communicating with others, is listening. A man usually listens to the main points, he is a selective listener. He usually gives more directives using fewer courtesy words. A woman shows attentiveness and listens to details. She will hardly forget the name of the person she is talking to, while a man will often do, especially when the person has presented himself/herself at the start of the conversation.

Men and women differ in their verbal communication. In verbal communication men seek status, speaking most often directly to the point, using no qualifiers and asking no tag questions. Their language can sometimes get offensive. Women try avoiding direct and threatening communication. They usually use qualifiers and tag questions aiming to make softer what they have to say. Men often ignore indirect messages and do not understand the nuances in the conversation.

Body language also differs between men and women in non-verbal communication. Women show more emotions in conversation. They nod their head often to show that they are listening and smile more. Men rarely show emotions in conversation. A man usually interprets the head nod as agreement and can often be surprised in a conversation with a woman to find out that the woman did not agree with him at all. Women usually use more direct eye contact than men.

Communication at work differs between men and women too. Women are usually keener on relationships and perform tasks by creating relationships first, so they can know whom to approach and ask others' opinion to get the task performed. Men go straight to the task, building relationships when performing the task.

Usually when women have to make a decision, they will often consider different options, make suggestions and speak about them. Men usually think things over by themselves and offer a solution. In such cases women get the impression that men are unresponsive to their suggestions and men think that women are uncertain and demonstrate weakness.

Women are more consensus-oriented in making decisions as they believe in relationships. They will seek different opinions on the matter before making a decision. Men usually include only the closest people to them in the decision making process and do it only when they think it is necessary. At meetings men interrupt women very often and significantly more often than women do. Some studies have shown also that men talk more than women. All this can lead to missing some ideas and to a breakdown in team work.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Psychology of Male and Female Communicative Activity
Vasyura, Svetlana A.
The Spanish Journal of Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 1, January 1, 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Different but Equal: Communication between the Sexes
Kay E. Payne.
Praeger, 2001
Communicating Gender
Suzanne Romaine.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Praeger Guide to the Psychology of Gender
Michele A. Paludi.
Praeger, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Gender and Verbal and Nonverbal Communication"
The Developmental Social Psychology of Gender
Thomas B. Eckes; Hanns M. Trautner.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Gender, Communication, and Social Influence: A Developmental Perspective"
Gender-Based Communication Styles, Trust, and Satisfaction in Virtual Teams
Furumo, Kimberly; Pearson, J. Michael.
Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations, Vol. 2, Annual 2007
Exploring the Impact of Gender Role Self-Perception on Communication Style
Kirtley, Michelle D.; Weaver, James B.,, III.
Women's Studies in Communication, Vol. 22, No. 2, Fall 1999
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Effects of Gender and Argument Strength on the Processing of Word-of-Mouth Communication
Kempf, DeAnna S.; Palan, Kay M.
Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, January 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Gender, Power, and Communication in Human Relationships
Pamela J. Kalbfleisch; Michael J. Cody.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Sex Differences and Similarities in Communication: Critical Essays and Empirical Investigations of Sex and Gender in Interaction
Daniel J. Canary; Kathryn Dindia.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
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