Gender and Communication: Miscommunication between men and women

Essay by kristyUniversity, Bachelor's May 2002

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Miscommunication between men and women during conversation is unfortunately very common, as their rules for a friendly conversation differ significantly.

From childhood, boys and girls learn to interact with one another in different ways. This learning essentially begins in the playground. Girls' talk as a way to establish and sustain a close relationship with their peers, whereas boys' use it to affirm a position of power. Girls' learn to criticize each other tactfully as not to intentionally hurt the feelings of others and also to accurately interpret the speech of their peers. Boys' use speech to attract and maintain an audience and also to confirm their status when others are speaking. These are the main ways in which girls' and boys' learn to use speech.

When we apply these rules as adults, male - female conversations often turn into misunderstandings.

Conversations between men and women often display a question-answer pattern with the female asking most of the questions.

The woman will endeavor to maintain a conversation by encouraging others to elaborate and inviting others to contribute. Questions are seen differently by males and females. Women see questions as a way of keeping the conversation. They use them to establish and maintain a conversation, and also as a way of expressing interest and encouraging elaboration. However, a male would recognize a question as a straightforward request for information. Women also use tag endings, hedges and qualifiers frequently during conversation as a way to get a response from their fellow speakers and to keep the conversation open for others to join.

Females are much more responsive than males. For females, the occasional nod or "mm hmm" suggests that she is listening and wishes the speaker to continue. For a man, it suggests that he agrees, so far, with what the speaker is...