There is a humorous saying that men came from ‘Mars and women from Venus. This statement implies that men and women are different in some ways and therefore it is important to understand these differences. Communication is an area that often creates problems between men and women. This happens because people do not realize the differences in communication between men and women. In view of the misunderstandings between men and women, these two genders communicate differently.
Men and women communicate differently due to biological reasons. Females use both sides of their brain- the right and left hemispheres and thus can carry out logical conversations regardless of their emotional status. Men, on the other hand, use only one side of their brain for communication. This means they take longer to process and will often not multitask as they need to synthesis and act on one piece of information at a time (Lathrop, 2003). This biological difference may make women feel frustrated during a conversation with a man if he takes too long to respond. Thus, a woman feels ignored and unloved. Similarly, a man will feel bombarded with a lot of information and will often back off from the conversation.
The differences in communication in men and women as shown by Tannen in her book You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation are that the differences are not only due to socialization but also due to sex. Where one comes from determines how one communicates. For example, in many societies, girls are socialized to speak out. This means that they always tell what is on their mind but boys are expected to be men and deal with their problems. Girls are also encouraged to show their emotions and when they come crying to their parents they are comforted while a boy crying will be told to shut up because boys do not cry like small girls. Thus from this early age, boys learn to hide their emotions and girls to express theirs (Lathrop, 2003).
This kind of socialization creates problems in men and women’s communication later in life. The women will use communication to create closeness by talking to their friends, lovers or spouses. On the other hand, men do not create closeness through talking but by engaging in an activity. This means that men will have a difficult time trying to figure out what women are saying and why they talk continually. This is because men will engage in talk to get or give information. The women will always talk about things that are bothering them to establish intimacy. In such a scenario, a man will most likely offer advice and the woman will feel cut off because the man did not listen to her problem and empathize with her but instead offered a solution, which she was not looking for. She will take this as lack of concern thus creating a conflict between the two (Robbins, 2002).
Men use communication to maintain status. The ones at the top of the hierarchy give orders to those under to maintain their dominance and those on the receiving end feel they are of low status. This notion of communication becomes problematic when a woman asks a man to do something. The man interprets it to mean that the woman wants to dominate him and may refuse to honor the request thus creating friction. This is because the man uses communication for dominance while the women seek consensus through their communication. The dominance need in men may also explain why they find it difficult to share their problems as this would mean they are defeated and must rely on somebody else’s help.
The differences in communication also extend to the workplace. Women and men in professions communicate differently and have different ways of negotiating (Miller, 2003). Women will seek a relational conversation because they not only seek to attain their objectives, but also to form relationships. On the contrary, men will take on a competitive style because they are more concerned about outcome or achieving a goal (Miller, 2003).
Lastly, men and women communicate differently and this is evident from the misunderstandings that occur during their conversations. This calls for an understanding of the differences to be able to communicate effectively in all spheres of life. They should try to understand one another by avoiding jumping into conclusions or misinterpreting each other, rather seek for clarification. Seeking for clarification and trying to understand each other from the other person’s angle can go a long way in ensuring that men and women understand each other and communicate effectively. This will improve relations, marriages and work relations. More importantly understanding each other is paramount. This means that men should try listen to the women in their lives because this is their avenue for intimacy on the contrary women need to understand that men are not comfortable expressing their emotions so should not assume that the men are locking them out. After all communication is one thing that men and women cannot avoid.
Lathrop, M. (2003). Communication styles. Web.
Miller, L.E. (2003). A woman’s guide to successful negotiating. Women in Business, 55 (1), 49-51.
Robbins, P.S. (2002).The truth about managing people– and nothing but the truth. New Jersey: FT Press.