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Communication between men and women

The present paper is an attempt to point out some of the male/female differences in communication. It is well known that the differences in male and female communication styles can result in misunderstandings, and this has created an area of interest for both scholars and lay people that were determined to find the sources of communication differences. It has also been suggested that we come from different planets, that we have different ways of talking, thinking, and acting. According to some researchers ( r. !ohn "ray # $en are from $ars, %omen are from &enus', communication is more or less cross(cultural and men and women are genetically incompatible to communicate successfully to each other. %e learn to use the language as we grow up, and since we grow up in different geographical areas, have different religious beliefs, class backgrounds, etc. all these lead to different ways of speaking and acting. ifferences between men and women and the way they speak have filled the pages of thousands of articles and books and a lot has been said about the topic. )o the *uestion raise here+ Are men and women really different, -f course that from an anatomically point of view they are, but are they different in any other ways, oes the hormonal difference influence their behaviors and attitudes, %e achieve our linguistic competence from an early age. .rom early childhood, girls and boys sociali/e in different ways. They are taught what is appropriate behavior for their gender. "irls usually play in small groups or in pairs, their entire life being centered on a best friend. The games that they are playing are not competitive0 their aim is to establish connection. ifferences have also been discovered in their speech. .or men the conversation is competitive, they try to prevent others from dominating them. $en see the world as a place where people try to gain status and keep it. %hen using the language, women are more emotional as opposed to men1s talk. %omen often think in terms of closeness and support and struggle to persevere intimacy. 2esearch concludes that men talk more in public while women talk more in private. $en are more concerned with what they can do to solve a problem, while women, in a similar situation 3ust need sympathy. ifferent e4pectations lead to disappointments and misunderstandings. 5ot once has it happened for a woman to

complain about a certain aspect of her life, for e4ample work, health, family etc. e4pecting only a sign of empathy and compassion. %hen women complain about something, that is not the message they are focused on. It is the metamessage of talking about problems or 3oys. All they want to hear is 6I know what you mean7, 6It will be ok7. In e4change, what she gets is a piece of advice in order to solve the problem. %hat a man understands from this is that if she complains about something it means that she wants to fi4 the problem, so normally she offers to help. The woman feels re3ected by the man1s refusal to e4press sympathy and the man feels pu//led at the woman1s reaction. %omen complain that men are always giving them advice0 men complain that women refuse to take action. %omen focus on feelings, men on the referential function of the language. %omen refuse to oppose the will of others openly, while men prefer an open conflict. %omen are defined by their feelings and relationships0 for them communication is of ma3or importance. $en are defined by their ability to solve problems, to achieve results, therefore to offer a spontaneous advice. This might be the reason why men refuse to ask for directions, since asking for help would make them look incompetent. .or men, asking for information/directions is a sign of inferiority, the one giving directions appearing as more knowledgeable or competent than they are. -ne of the most common stereotypes is that women talk a lot without saying anything of importance, that they deal in trivial and unimportant matters. In all female conversations, women talk about a certain topic e4tensively, sharing a wealth of information about themselves. $en 3ump from one topic to another, rarely providing information about themselves. .or women conversations are therapeutical. This is not a normal component of men8s discussions, but if they do come across such instances in their talk, they regard it as a re*uest for advice, and instead of sharing similar e4periences from their lives, they start giving advice. $en are always competing, always proving who is better, who is more up(to(date with everything that is going on in the world+ business, politics, economy etc. 5ot only what men and women talk about is different, but also the way in which they talk about these topics+ women wait patiently for the other person to finish his/her turn0 men interrupt, they compete for the dominance of conversation topics. $en8s language and women8s language appear to have the same words, but the way they use these words gives rise to different meanings. Their e4pressions may be similar, but they have different connotations. "enderlects provide the answer to stereotypical *uestions like 8%hy don8t you understand,8, 8%hy don8t you listen to me,8 etc. The term genderlect has been coined to define the language of the se4es. )imilar in

form to the word 9dialect9 (the uni*ue language of people in a specific geographical area', genderlect is 9a variety of a language that is tied not to geography or to family background or to a role but to the speaker8s se4ual gender.9 :nderstanding the other8s conversational style represents a leap across the communication gap between men and women. The fact that men and women are different is incontestable. They differ biologically, physically, psychologically, they differ in the way they think, behave, even in the way they talk. The *uestion that arises is 8;ow different are they,8 $en and women can learn so much from each other if only the gender communication barriers can be broken. These barriers disappear with time, understanding, and effort. An investment of time is necessary to evaluate personal communicative style. :nderstanding is needed as different conversational styles are observed. <ffort is e4pended when ad3ustments are made to improve interaction between men and women. To conclude with, I would say that the differences between men and women # in what language and communication are concerned # are mostly the result of sociali/ation0 biology has little to do with our abilities or gender roles in our society. =ut most of all one thing should be borne in mind+ though males and females differ in their communication skills and behavior, this does not mean that one se4 is superior or inferior to another0 both styles of communication are e*ually valid and the goal in gender communication is not to change the other8s communication style but to adapt it. >inguistic differences between men and women are not caused by a power imbalance but by different norms of conversational interaction0 each gender has its own weaknesses and strengths. 2ather than speaking differently simply because they are women and men, women and men may differ in their patterns of language(use because they are engaged in different activities or are playing different conversational roles.

2eferences+ "ray, !ohn. $en Are from $ars, %omen Are from &enus. 5ew ?ork+ ;arper Collins, @AAB. Crint.

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