Communication Styles between the Genders

Essay by fatimah42University, Master'sA+, August 2006

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In "Sex, Lies, and Conversation: Why Is It So Hard for Men and Women to Talk to Each Other?" an article that appeared in the Washington Post, Deborah Tannen analyzes the different conversational styles men and women have and how these differences frequently lead to misunderstandings when men and women communicate with one another. The differences she discusses include childhood interactions, body language, conversational topics, listener noises, and public versus private conversation. The beginning of men and women's different conversational styles can be traced back to different childhood interactions with peers. Little girls develop friendships through conversation, particularly by sharing secrets. Instead of developing friendships through conversation, boys create friendships through doing things together. Men and women also have different ways they talk in private versus in public. Women are less conversational in public because of the fear of offending others or acting like a show off. However, at home they are at ease and feel more open to conversation.

Men are more conversational in public because of the relation to the world in which they live in. At home, men execute the need to shelter his position, so the wife talks more and he talks less, but out in public men (husbands) are more talkative.

Tannen believes, communication misunderstandings based on gender differences are a major cause of problems in marriages. In an observational study, Tannen also found that the tenth grade boys sat on angles from each other and looked elsewhere in the room, glancing at each other from time to time. Women, on the other hand, face each other and make eye contact when having a conversation. Tannen notes that the body language men displayed can frustrate women because it gives them the idea that the men are not listening to them. Another difference in conversational...