The society in which we grow up and live in usually shapes how we lead our lives in terms of communication and perceptions. This is chiefly the resultant effect of socialization and classification at a tender age often giving rise to the differences on how the different genders communicate. When growing up young boys and girls tend to mostly socialize with the members of the same sex, with each group having a varied perceptions and approach to certain things (Tannen, 1990, p. 368).
Girls from a tender age tend to keep their relationships tight knit by sharing small secrets and talking about intimate things amongst themselves that they would not otherwise share with anyone else. The sharing of secrets and feelings among the female gender builds intimacy in their relationships thereby weaving the main fabric for a stable and a long lasting relationship (Tannen, 1990, p. 404). They perceive that these relationships will be kept for a lifetime and hence the reason for looking for comfort and support from each other in these closely knit, same gender relationships. On the other hand the boys are quite different from the girls in that they usually try to portray an aura of machismo and show off their ego by trying to stand out in the group that they belong to (Tannen, 1990, p369). Boys have a higher propensity to hang out in larger groups making most of them to struggle to be at the top of the group (Tannen, 1990, p. 404).
The disparities in communication between men and women often affect relationships because each gender sees issues through their own eyes. This may bring about some tension and misinterpretation of facts as an action or statement by one gender to another may be taken to mean something that is totally different. For example, women tend to avoid conflict so as to ensure there is closeness, while the men use conflict to uplift their status. They want to get that feeling of being tough and in control of issues while in the real sense they might be aggravating an issue. Men usually talk about money, politics and sports while women talk about people, relationships and feelings. Being in the same setting of disparities in their general topics may bring out a sense of discomfort especially if it involves an individual who finds himself or herself in a group consisting of members of the opposite gender.
To the differences in the ways men and women communicate have been given a name of genderlect, coined from the name gender and dialect. This is a variety of language that has been tied to the speakers’ sexual gender (Ballantine, 1990, p. 78). This is clearly shown in the fact that even though the two genders grow up in the same neighborhood or house they evidently live in a different world of words.
Research has proven that men talk more in public while women are more comfortable talking in private. Body language is also used differently by the men and women. For example, women tend to use nonverbal communication more directly than men. They also stand in close proximity to each other and maintain eye contact. The male gender is more comfortable keeping their distance during a conversation and minimizing eye contact.
In their publications, the authors Lyman and Tannen derive a relationship between their background and other writings they referred to in their work. Both were accredited professors’ who have taught in prestigious universities in the United States. Through the research and other literally works they have clearly shown that there is a stark contrast between the way men and women communicate. Their childhood in part, has influenced their research into the differences in communication between the two genders.
Specific characteristics that men and women have during social interaction and how they cause confusion
There are stark disparities in the character of social interactions between men and women. Women usually hear and speak a language of connection and intimacy while men speak and hear a language of independence, status and power (Tannen, 1992, p. 123) .This difference in the perception of issues may bring out some confusion on how the different genders perceive issues while conversing with the members of the opposite gender.
There is also a stereotype assumption, that in school girls have a high affinity to English and history, while boys are more inclined towards mathematics and sciences. This case scenario is widely believed to be true with a few exceptions, of course. This makes the different genders to volunteer information that is accordant to this stereotype belief. This belief has led to untapped potential especially of the feminine gender because some of them feel that they are not inclined to offer their point of view in the presence of the opposite gender even though they might be right.
During a conversation men usually do not feel the need to respond to a previous topic and more often than not they are happy to leave it hanging. On the other hand women usually like closure on a previous topic especially if it involved a contentious issue that has not been resolved. This has been one of the major causes of marital problems because of a lack of a coherent communication method. Men contribute to a topic independently and use as many of their points as possible to advance their argument or interest. Women are contented to stay in the background during a conversation and offer only short comments or a nod here and there.
Facing away during a conversation has elicited varied perceptions during a conversation. Men are more predisposed to face away or avoid eye contact during a conversational, fact that may be judged to imply a lack of interest in the conversation with the opposite gender (Tannen, 1992, p. 405).When a man switches a topic during a conversation with a female, the woman might take it that the man is not listening or paying attention or he is just being plain arrogant.
During the tender age when growing up the differences on the communicative behaviors between girls and boys are evident. For example, little girls talk on being liked or liking while little boys talk to boast. Girls also talk more directly than boys and use more words while boys are more inclined to use actions while speaking. These early characteristics go a long way in impacting on the future behavior of children, even though some of the actions may be done in a subconscious manner.
Jokes as a bonding experience between the different genders
During a conversation jokes are widely used as a bonding experience and to reduce tension when conversing. Men and women have different ideas of what they consider funny and irritating. In essence this creates a form of buffer between men and women meaning that it is hard to be joking between men and women (Lyman 1992, p. 387). Men have a tendency to make crude and bawdy jokes especially against the female gender, something that feminine gender does not take kindly. Men find it a bonding experience amongst themselves when they engage in crude jokes against the feminine gender.
On the other hand, women have a tendency to make jokes amongst themselves that demean other women based on their physical attributes. Women use jokes to try to gain equality while men use jokes to try to gain status and respect among their peers. Sometimes this kind of joking at someone’s expense may make others to form a sense of despondence thereby arousing hard feelings rather than the intended feeling of comradeship (Lyman 1992, p. 390).
In summary, it is good to understand and appreciate the communication style of the different genders. Listening carefully to the opposite gender is important if at all confusions or misrepresentations are to be avoided during communication. This calls for the appreciation of the different genders communication style impartially and without being prejudicial. Self-evaluation at an individual level is important if the different communication style is to be appreciated by all. Lastly it is important to alter one’s communication style depending on the context of the conversation in place. The stereotype notion that men or women are more or less of that should not be held in very high opinion because it corrupts and diminishes the effectiveness of communication between and within gender groups.