Gender Differences in Communication

Introduction

“The basic building block to all human interaction and relationships is communication, whether verbal and non verbal” (Gustafsson and Lindenfors, 2004). It might be really difficult and even impossible in some instances if someone can’t communicate effectively. This obviously affects personal, professional and social relationships. It affects the way children are raised, how organizations operate, and how communities interact, and how nations are build, among other areas of life. Of importance are the principles, channels and means of communication. For organizations especially, there is need to have structured ways of communication, to ensure that differences do not ruin the way information is transmitted from one area of an organization or group to another.

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In any communication platform, there is need to create safe and healthy environments where people can feel free to communicate freely, regardless of their differences. There is also need for awareness on the differences that exist between men and women to reduce the levels of frustrations when the two discover they have different goals and drives in the same conversation. As debates increase on the differences and theories keep coming up on the same, they should not affect structures that allow men and women converse effectively regardless of the existing differences.

Many theorists, psychiatrists and other parties interested in communication related issues agree that existing differences between people may not be the main issue. The main problem is establishing stable communication channels and skills. Stability plays an important factor in gaining each other’s trust. Everyone will only be willing to let in another person or a group after they have seen what they can do and how stable and reliable what they are offering is. Women, men and children all have different communication needs and expectations, which have to be met to achieve social and emotional stability in human existence. It then is every person’s responsibility to fulfill the promises they make to each other if they have to establish and maintain trust and maintain a healthy relationship between them and the other person.

Aim

Study and explain gender differences in communication

Objectives

  • Understand the relevance of communication in our lives
  • Understand the background of the study based on studies from the past research projects by different authors
  • Explain existing theories on gender differences in communication
  • Collect primary data and information that will be used to formulate the study’s arguments
  • Draw conclusions based on gathered information

Literature review

Differences between men and women

Male and females differ in both biological and physiological characteristics. The differences can be either direct or indirect. While most are caused by the differing chromosome combination, some are caused by up-bringing and how the society defines male and female. The different ways, through which men and women handle differences, further means that the outcome will not be the same. As men and women grow up, societal expectations and treatment leaves them with no choice but to dress, act and do things in a certain way. The way men and women respond to issues, the way they communicate their opinion and react to hurt is different.

When it comes to communication, Jones, Ann and Melissa (2000) once said that “neither men nor women are better communicators, they are just different”. The issue of whether men and women speak the same language has been a source of heated debates between researchers, psychiatrists and scholars. Many people still wonder whether men and women speak the same language and whether they can still communicate. Even as experts continue to seek solutions, “countless self-help and popular psychology books have been written portraying men and women as alien beings, and conversation between them as a catalogue of misunderstandings” (Wood, 2009).

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Communication differences that a girl and boy child experience on the playground while growing up has a major influence on the way they communicate as adults. These skills, challenges and differences tend to follow people to their adulthood and even their professions. This is evident from the differences among men and women on the way they handle issues at work, and the positions the fit in. “In the USA, women compose half the professional managerial workforce” (Mulvaney, 2004). This is an encouraging statistic and reveals that even though men and women communicate in different ways, it does not hinder their intellectual development or capabilities.

Like Tanner (1990) notes, “it is critical to understand that even if there may be average tendencies in the directions different theories suggest, these generalizations certainly do not apply to all men and all women” (Tanner, 1990). Other factors such as upbringing and social settings among others may influence the way a man or woman communicates, and sometimes it may be very different from what is expected of them from the established theories. The differences are argued to be less in the current world as various factors come into play. Like Dindia and Daniel (2009) explains “researchers in the 1970s predicted the disappearances of gender communication differences as women moved into higher management positions, but the gap or “disconnection” remains”.

As theorists established with time, the differences should not be a source of conflict between the sexes, as long as they can learn to develop and sustain healthy relationships. In so doing, this is a chance to work on any mistakes on challenges that make it hard for men and women to communicate. As people take such measures seriously and work towards establishing them, they are able to build confidence among those who are then willing to stand by each other even when differences exist. Satisfying relationships are just some of the suggestions offered and proven to work in helping people improve on communication skills as well as allowing everyone understand expectations. This also translates to reduced complexity on the topic of gender differences in communication.

Even as men and women seek answers to the problems arising from communication differences, Matlin (2012) argues that “advice on how to bridge the communication gulf between the sexes has grown into a flourishing multimedia industry”. There exist books of all kinds, blogs, classes, motivational speakers and many other resources claiming to have solutions that can help men bridge the gap that arises when men and women develop different communication skills and tendencies. As the world becomes more and more liberal, men and women move away from traditional practices and expectations, and open up to different communication tendencies and skills. For example in the past, “as females grew up in most cultures, they were taught not to be confrontational, not to make a scene or be aggressive or pushy”. The result is that women were left with no way of expressing any opposition to ideas or opinions. This is rapidly changing as women become more aggressive and equally competitive in all fields and professions.

Communication theories

Cognitive dissonance theory

“This theory argues that the experience of dissonance (or incompatible beliefs and actions) is aversive and people are highly motivated to avoid it” (Tanner, 1990). It argues that in their effort to avoid any hurtful feelings, people will avoid engaging in a conversation where views that differ from what they believe in are discussed. It also explains that people will change their beliefs to match what they are doing, and they will engage in conversations that give them reassurance for their decisions, actions and beliefs. This theory is particularly applicable to men, who will steer off any conversations that oppose their opinion and position of power or status. They will also steer off any conversation that makes them feel like the less informed party, or as making the least contribution. This is especially so if the conversation is between a man and women or women. In their attempt to retain status and position, their conversations are subconsciously aimed at ensuring that happens. Women on the other hand will avoid conversations that may easily bring a sense of rejection.

Accommodation theory

Tanner (1990) explains that “this theoretical perspective examines the underlying motivations and consequences of what happens when two speakers shift their communication styles”. As Tanner (1990) further explains, “accommodation theorists argue that during communication, people will try to accommodate or adjust their style of speaking to others, which they do in two ways; divergence and convergence”. Men who have strong pride will use divergence to prove identity. When a powerless group or individual strongly needs recognition and approval, convergence is used.

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Social exchange theory

In social exchange theory, the main drive of conversation and interpersonal relationships between people is their self interests. Theorists that support social exchange theory argue that self interests is not always a bad thing and can actually be used positively to build and develop relationships between individuals and groups. This theory compares social exchanges to economic approaches where people expect a return on what they spend or invest in a venture.

Social penetration theory

The social penetration theory argues that interpersonal relationships develop and are grown in patterns which can be easily predicted. It also identifies self-disclosure as the primary way through which close and intimate relationships are established. The theory however cautions that everyone should establish a way to protect themselves, because self-disclosure can leave one extremely vulnerable. This applies equally to men and women, although women expose themselves to vulnerable situations more.

Standpoint theory

Like Mulvaney (2004) explains, “this theory posits that people are situated in specific social standpoints-they occupy different places in the social hierarchy. Because of this, individuals view the social situation from particular vantage points”. In this theory, it is argued that most people only have a partial understanding of the communication whole. Those in the lower social rank have a better understanding of the whole compared to those in the upper rank.

Methodology

Research methodologies to be used in this research project will include the study of books, academic journals, online articles, past projects by different authors, information from government and non-governmental organizations on communication and gender differences. It will also involve a study of various academic works and research papers on communications skill mix, communication development and human resource crisis management in the world of business as a result of the differences. From books, different academic articles and online articles already reviewed, it is clear that communication is a significant part of every area of a community, family, business, organization and even nations. It is also among the areas that are suffering increased need for understanding and development, and a diminishing capacity to satisfy these needs.

It is also clear that communication is an area that attracts a lot of attention and even a lot of investing to make it better, especially from those involved in the challenging tasks of serving communities. These conclusions and information are available from reports by different research organizations and individual surveys from scholars. This is also a topic that attracts a lot of attention from scholars and theorists, and therefore a lot of information is available from them, as well as psychologists, and psychiatrists, just to mention a few. Different reports utilized in this proposal served very effective and relevant in an attempt to understand the topic’s background. Views from fellow students were also collected in an attempt to get their thoughts on the subject and how it affects them.

The initial findings of the data are focused on three main questions;

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  • What is communication?
  • What differences exist between men and women in communication?
  • What different theories exist to explain this and why?

Participants

To collect comprehensive data and information, this study will be conducted on 50 participants. It will be open to all students in my department. The survey will encourage participants from all areas of study in my department to ensure more wide representation. It will target 50 participants. The big number of participants signifies the level of importance and allows for more evidence on arguments raised in the course of data collection.

The interviews will have five participants. The interviewees are expected to have a good understanding of gender differences in communication and people’s beliefs on the same. They will be further expected to understand the area of communication in different areas of application. Since the interviews will be used to discuss a lot of theoretical aspect of the paper, a long term experience in the sector will be required.

To ensure gender balance in the study, 50% of the participants will be female, while the remaining percentage will be male. There will be an age limit of 25 years to ensure information is only collected from experienced participants. The questionnaires will be accessible to the participants for two weeks to ensure participants filled them at their own time without pressure.

Recruitment

Recruitment will be done by using social network and online forums to reach out to targeted participants. The snowball technique will also be used to reach the targeted number of participants required for the study. In this technique, people familiar with the study will be used to reach out to more people who will then be directed to the research’s weblink. For the interviews, specific people will be contacted on the phone by fetching their numbers from directories. All participants will be presented with adequate explanations and guidelines for the study. All participants will also be required to fill and sign a consent form agreeing to voluntary participation.

Data collection

The research methodology applied in this research project would be designed to achieve the set objectives of the paper. It will include study of books, academic journals, online articles, past projects by different authors, government statistics and interviews with experts in communication sector industry. Primary data collection will be done by administering questionnaires and doing interviews. Secondary data will be collected from past research projects, government and non-governmental statistics and other relevant sources. The questionnaires will be filled online to minimize paper work and ensure safety of data.

Case design

The case design will be comprehensive and complete enough, to allow stakeholders understand and utilize the information in decision-making easily, whether they were part of the research team or not. These stakeholders include men, women, organizations that rely on effective communication, professionals in the area of communication, government programs, and other stakeholders. Reviewing the case design will be critical to ensure its validity and applicability. Cross-comparing the case design and its outcome, with similar research projects conducted in the past, will help this study to highlight commonalities and identify areas where the results need to be strengthened.

Justification

“Appreciative inquiry is based on the assertion that problems are often the result of our own perspectives and perceptions of phenomena” (McBurney and Theresa, 2010). The approach will be applicable when identifying what has worked well in the past to bridge communication gaps and applying it in the current situation. This proved the most applicable methods when researching on such a topic, as well as development and strategic planning in the area of communication.

Case study design

According to McBurney and Theresa (2010), “case studies are particularly useful in depicting a holistic portrayal of a client’s experiences and results regarding a program”. In order to implement any communication skills mix initiatives, every sector that needs men and women to work and speak in harmony will need to confirm the effectiveness of its programs and processes. This entails evaluating their strengths, weaknesses and threats. A case design in this research will include arranging a wide range of information from different sources and similar projects in the past by the communication sector or other stakeholders. Comparing the results and patterns of past project will then help this research make relevant conclusions and recommendations. Evaluation will include both straightforward comparison and in-depth analysis.

Significance of the study

In the process of writing this paper, it is expected that it will be possible to identify the role of gender differences in communication. The study is focused on gender differences and how they hinder or promote the development of communication skills from a young stage to adulthood. The study focuses on the role of a person’s gender on transferability, development or adaptability of communication skills. It also focuses on communication skills and knowledge levels among men and women.

This paper and information gathered are significant to both men and women, professionals in the area of communication and the area of psychology studying communication differences in men and women. It is also relevant to any person seeking solutions to problems that arise as a result of the differences. The research is also significant to policy makers and involved stakeholders in the area of communication. It is significant to the direction that training and communication skills development takes. It is further expected that the results will help understand existing beliefs of gender differences in communication.

Discussion and analysis

Existing theories

“The early work on human communication theory began with a focus on language, and on how language is used to generate meaning; meaning is believed to be engendered by words themselves” (Smith and Mackie, 2007). Even as language was being developed, men and women have embraced and adapted to it differently. The differences arise from the way they pick up signs, develop the objects of communication and interpreting skills. The process through which these things happen is explained through different theories including the systems and information theories.

A simple communicative feedback stream is composed of a receptor where a stimulus goes in and a message is released, a control apparatus where a message goes in it goes out after being processed, and an effecter where a message goes in and a response is released. This is the process through which meaning emerges through two individuals or groups of people. In the 1960s, communication theories started to evolve. All these theories are based on interaction between the hearer and the speaker.

Whether one is a man or women, there exist similarities on what needs to be done or said. These rules are covered in the Grice’s conversational maxis. They cover quality, quantity, manner and relation. Quality covers one speaking things that true and those which they have proper evidence for. Quantity rules cover making a contribution and being as informative as one can be. It also dictates that one should not make contributions that are not adequately informative. The rules address relations by pointing out that they should be relevant and address a certain need. About manner, Grice’s conversational maxims state that parties participating in a conversation should avoid ambiguity, should restrain from disorderliness, be brief, and ensure that obscurity is minimized. These rules are further explained in other theories of communication.

In the classical theories such as the authoritarian theory, the issue of wise men is discussed and the power of being able to maintain order. Trusting people to be wise enough in communication is what brings about libertarianism and free press in media. This theory has however come under heavy criticism for offering power of communication and expression without defining any rules to maintain social responsibility. It is through such liberal theories that people in liberalized countries are able to write, say and publish their thoughts freely.

Another theory that covers the rules of communication is the social responsibility theory which states that “pure libertarianism is antiquated, outdated and obsolete” (Wood, 2002). A commission of the freedom of press in the United States was responsible for this theory. In his book, Wood (2002) narrates how “the commission found that the free market approach to press freedom had only increased the power of a single class and has not served the interests of the less well-off classes”. From then, the theory became a more civilized version of freedom of expression, by explaining that one’s conscience should be their primary basis on what they choose to engage in.

Primary data

Most of the questions were close-ended to make it easy for participants answer them easily. It also took less time to give a yes or no answer for most of the questions. The questionnaire sought answers on who the participants thought was the better gender in communication, how hard it was to communicate to people of the opposite gender and what was the driving force for men and women in communication. It also sought to find out the participants’ beliefs on the differences that existed, what communication meant to them, the role of in communication how differences in communication affected organizations and the community at large.

The results from the questionnaires can be summarized as follows:

Primary data

Men’s desire to win in everything is a common belief among men and women as evident by the number of people who believe so through their answers. A question asking if the participants believed that men were driven by winning in their conversation received 60% yes response. This belief however appeared to be more popular among women than men. 58% of those who answered yes to the question were women.

Primary data

Communicating with people of the opposite sex is a challenge for many people as evident from the survey. 40% of the participants answered yes to a question asking whether it was hard for them to speak to someone who is from the opposite sex. This is perhaps driven by the differences that exist in the way people from different genders communicate. The task of communicating appears even harder for women who contributed to 62% of those who said it was hard to communicate with people of the opposite sex.

Primary data

More than half the participants thought that one gender was better than the other in communication, proof that beliefs gender differences in gender exist. From the data, it is evident that more men think their gender is better compared to women. This is evident from the results where 62% of the participants who answered yes when asked if their gender was better in communication than the other. There was also a small fraction of people who could not make up their mind on who was better.

Primary data

Interviews

This study was aimed at investigating people’s beliefs on gender differences in communication. From the study, it was possible to establish that in social and economic sectors, there are various quality improvement models of communication that have been developed to ensure that communication skills meet the expected quality level.

From the interviews, it was evident that communication mix management features community management, social growth, personnel administration, organizational management, industrial management and manpower management. Any element that could create communication challenges are an area of interest to every interviewee. By studying different literature and past studies, it was possible to confirm that these arguments have and will existent for as long as communication counts. Differences identified between men and women include the following;

Status versus connections

“While men live in a world of status, women live in a world of connections” (Mulvaney, 2004). It is therefore not a surprise that the men and women have different goals when communicating. A discussion between men is more often than not a platform for show-down between who knows more on the subject under discussion. Even though this is not directly agreed upon, this goes on subconsciously as explained by (Murphy, 2002). It is for this reason that a discussion or argument between men will be more aggressive. Their ability to be honest on their views allows a situation where fair judgment can be made.

According to the interviewees, the drive is completely different for women. The need for connections strongly out-weighs the need to win. Women take time to have deep conversations with each other in a bid to establish attachments and connections. They are concerned when one of has a problem whether it affects them or not. They are good listeners and strive to know as much as possible about each other. It is for this reason that women will make time to have regular meeting to catch-up with each other.

These needs determine the nature and arrangements for meetings between men and that between women. While women will take time to arrange a meeting and have all logistics addressed, men have more impromptu meetings. The only chance to speak about issues is when they bump onto each other on the road, workplace and other social places. Psychiatrists argue that such arrangements exist because men don’t feel the need to discuss their problems or those of others. As a result, unless a matter is very grave, they can discuss other things in a less-serious setting. Women on the other hand take their need to connect and know each other seriously and will treat their meetings and conversations as a serious affair.

Power versus closeness

This was one of the differences identified from the survey. According to Vassileva (2008) “Conversations among men are a negotiation for power while for women, they are a negotiation for closeness”. A good conversationalist among men has a place of respect. A well informed man and one who has his facts right is placed in a respectable position among men in a social gathering. Whether it is about a game, politics or the economy, information is paramount for a man to meet in the social circles. Some psychiatrists even argue that men use their level of knowledge to attract women.

Women on the other hand don’t pay a lot of attention to facts in social meetings, as long as everyone else in the group can relate to what they are talking about. This does not mean that women are not knowledgeable or are not aware of facts that affect their day to day life. In fact, in a professional setting, women can be as intellectually competent as men. It only means that in some settings, heavy topics may not be an appealing or fun thing to do.

These differences however only arise in social conversations. In professional meetings and functions, a business’ interest must be placed first, meaning it winning and losing is not very important in a team. It also means that only facts and verified information can be shared among the team. Women’s ability to be accurately professional and casual at the same time allows them to fit well in different settings and gatherings. They make good professionals and are able to go home and play with kids and fit into their world. They are able to offer advice on a wide range of topics, unlike men who may find it hard to engage in some topics and areas of problems in life.

Independence and intimacy

“While men want to preserve independence, women want to preserve intimacy” (Gray, 1992). Their conversations are centered towards achieving these needs. Men will do their best to steer away from personal matters and issues in their conversations. This can be viewed as a means to which they achieve the above discussed goals. Steering away from personal matters ensures that there is no chance for any point of weakness to be exposed. It is for this reason that men prefer to talk about politics, sports, gadgets and the economy, issues which they do not influence directly and are not held responsible for.

This argument was in agreement with the interviewees’ views who also point out that women are more keen on maintain relationships with family and friends. They are keen to know people and stay updated on their personal affairs. They like engaging in close and intimate conversations and can talk for very long hours over an issue. While have a hard time listening for long, women have no problem and will listen for as long as there is need to. It is also notable that women will dwell on issues which they interact with and influence directly such as their children, husbands, careers, beauty and fashion, just to mention a few.

The differences between a need for independence and intimacy are viewed as the biggest difference between the way men and women communicate. While women need listening, men are not able to offer it for as long as women would want it. While women need someone who they can discuss intimate issues with, men may not be interested. While debate still rages on whether there are ways to bridge the gap. Jones, Ann and Melissa (2000) explain that “these differences are linked to power, and are context-specific. These differences are socially created and therefore may be socially altered”.

Winning versus closeness

A majority of the interviewees were in agreement that men constantly seek for opportunities to win and avoid failure. While the main aim of conversation is to transmit information from one person to another, men look at as a means to show a positive contribution towards the other person, hence they feel relevant. Like Miller, Agnes and John (2010) argues, a conversation between two men may just pass casually as an interaction, but a conversation between a man and a woman will leave a man subconsciously wanting to be better and impress. They will avoid any conversation in which they sound like they are on the losing end. It is argued that this is why men constantly avoid confrontations, especially if it is on issues that they do not understand.

Women on the other hand seek closeness and use conversation to avoid isolation. Psychologists and research has proven that women have a real fear for loneliness. This need has a significant influence on how women interact and communicate with people. They listen and respond to every detail of a conversation. They remember small details, are more inquisitive and will probe for information if the other person does not volunteer it. They also tend to be more judgmental because they want to relate everything the other person says to themselves and their situations.

As a result of these two different driving forces, the depth of conversations between men and women differ. Details shared in a conversation will differ and time taken to share a certain amount of information is different. What they remember from the conversations is also different. These according to psychologists are differences which arise from societal settings and expectations, which can be influenced as people grow up. However, other theories argue that these differences arise from biological differences that cannot be resolved.

Taking orders

Another significant difference that was identified between men and women is the way they view orders. While men avoid taking orders women might be fine with orders depending on how and when they are given. It also matters who they are coming from. Men associate taking orders with losing their independence and having a low status. As a result, men will steer off any conversation will steer off any form of conversation that sounds like they are not in control. Where words are not well carefully chosen, conflict and disorder easily arise. This argument can be used to justify why men will be reserved and totally draw back when confronted with issues they do not want to talk about.

Women perceive orders as a way of forming a connection. However, they have to be given in a dignified manner and should be from appropriate people. For example, women too will have problems taking orders from strangers or people they do not agree with. This is therefore a situation that is specifically reserved for friends and people in the close circles. In such settings, women view orders as a means to connect with other people and be relevant by doing something for them.

This difference among men and women has been used many times to explain why in family settings, a many women, especially in the developing regions, do not have a say on almost all the issues in the society. It is also for this reason that for a long time, women lived oppressions and violence from men who took advantage of their ability to receive orders easily. As this slowly changes, it is argued that this is a difference that is created from upbringing and expectations on men and women as they grow up. It is also argued that this is a difference that is slowly fading away as women become more and more empowered. As girls grow up in more liberalized atmospheres, their views on orders may be totally different.

Control and understanding

The interviewees argued that while men seek to be in a position of power and control, women are understanding and want the same for themselves. This difference is very clear even in the way men and women communicate. As they seek different goals and objectives in how and what they communicate, conflict may arise. Furthermore, breakdowns easily occur as men and women drive towards different agendas in communication. What men and women aim to achieve, further means that they will pick out different ideas and points in a conversation. Their writing skills and they way they transmit information is influenced by these goals.

In an attempt to achieve control, men may be more authoritative, assertive and commanding in the way they talk. Psychologists argue that this is why most people find it harder to approach a man for conversation, than it is to approach a woman. In their understanding nature, women are soft spoken and will many times try to ensure that the other party is comfortable. It is argued that this is why women have an easier time with children since they are able to pick out and understand their needs from a simple conversation. They are able to read moods more easily and willing to listen for longer hours.

Inequality versus equality

While women are very comfortable with equality, men have always been opposed to the idea. Men are happy to stay in power even at a communication level. Men use every opportunity and avenue to prove that they are more capable than women in very many areas. When a man is conversing with fellow men, a conversation might easily pass as a leisure activity, and not serve the purpose of proving anything. When a man is conversing with a woman, is different and the level of need to prove he is better depends with whom the woman is in his life. If a man has personal interests in the woman, then the level to impress goes up. While a man will say things and express himself in a way that proves he is good enough, they will also strive to prove that they are better than everyone else. Their conversations are steered towards protecting their position and “superiority”.

Conversation can easily pass as a leisure activity for women, without the need to prove much. In social conversations, there is also no need to prove that one is better. This however might be different in professional settings or academic settings. In such situations, being at the same level with everyone is not comfortable and women might say things and express themselves in ways that put them in a more attractive position. At all levels, women are comfortable with being at the same level with men and being trusted with equal measure of responsibilities. As a result, their conversations are only aimed at proving that they are good enough and not necessarily better than everyone else.

Issues arising

Self concept and communication

“Self is a key construct in several schools of psychology and usually refers to either the cognitive and affective representation of one’s identity or subject” (Bem, 1997). There are several theories trying to explain the meaning of self and how it affects the way different people behave, but the most outstanding ones are the Kohut’s formulation and the Jugian understandings. There are also many critiques of the concept of self hood with arguments that “preoccupation with independence may be harmful as it causes divides based on people’s sex, race and many other elements that make one different from the others” (Bem,1997). The idea of self has also been argued as being philosophically invalid since it requires self to understand it’s self to be able to talk about, explain or judge oneself.

Self concept is the collection of ideas and beliefs which people hold about their selves. For example when someone says “I am a very thoughtful and kind person”, that is the belief that they hold about themselves or self. Self concept is developed through many different impressions and viewpoints but in many ways through our own behavior. Daryl Bern was the first person to propose a self perception theory where he described how a person may alter and arrange their self-concept around the things they do and actions they have taken in the past (Smith and Mackie, 2007). For example someone who has participated in a charitable event in the past may develop a deep belief that they are kind and caring after the event. Someone who has witnessed a child being abused and did not intervene may begin to believe that they are cowardly and selfish. Someone who was not able to express themselves well in an interview may start believing that they are shy and have bad communication skills. This reveals how self-concept molds around our actions, thoughts and experiences.

People view others in a comparative sense from their own self-concept. They start judging what they are and what they aren’t from the perception they have of others. Self-concept also tends to look at what separates one from the everyday society and it could be very small things such as having an uncommon music taste or having a tattoo. It helps people to form a more individual and cohesive concept that can distinguish them from the rest of the population. Studies show that when children are told to describe themselves, usually they will list those characteristics which appear different from what others may have. This therefore proves that self concept starts to develop as early as childhood.

The stability of our self concept is determined by different mental and psychological factors and contributions. It is however believed to be some form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone who believes they are courageous for example will tend to find situations which portray his courage and will always try to act courageous in everyday situations in an attempt to reinforce their beliefs as self concept. Another factor which affects self-concept is selective memory. People will more often than not remember those events which reinforce their self concept. Anything which may be a potential threat to their self-concept will also many times remain memorable for a long time as well as a constant attempt to make up for that particular time one didn’t act as they believe to be.

This phenomenon has and continues to be confirmed by many studies. Selective memory enables people to maintain consistency in their self-concept. It leads to less questioning of our inner beliefs and therefore creates a more comfortable environment for self-concept. It is also reinforced by attribution where a person will make excuses anytime they are faced with behaviors which may be inconsistent with their regular self-concept (Bem, 1997). For example, a person who believes they are bold and confident will blame not attending a highly crowded occasion on the fact that they were busy or tired. This helps maintain consistency of their beliefs and ideals and even when the excuse is not true, their mind will shield itself from the truth and instead choose to believe in the fake truthfulness of their excuses.

Just like self esteem, communication illustrates the collection of beliefs and feelings one has about selves. How one defines themselves in turn affects how they behave and emotional adjustments towards different situations in life. It also affects the way they communicate. Patterns of self communication start very early in life just like self-concept and the two go hand in hand. How we define ourselves goes hand in hand with how we feel about ourselves and how we express ourselves. Communication begins in early childhood with a sense of accomplishment for every small task that children accomplish. It gives them a belief that they can actually accomplish something, which in turn creates an achiever self concept and a good attitude about themselves in front of other people.

In normal conditions and circumstances, poor communication skills and the inability to express one self effectively, arise from life’s conflicts, personal struggles and failures which may have occurred in our lives in the past. Such experiences then lead to a very negative self-concept and a person then tends to act like who they believe to be and are embarrassed to engage in any form of conversation, or a situation where they have to express themselves. If for example someone believes they are a failure, they tend to set themselves to fail and do their work with very little enthusiasm expecting to fail. They easily hurt from what other people say, and they will therefore stay away from any possible confrontation. If someone believes they are a bad person, they will act accordingly and reveal it the way they talk and what they say about themselves. On the other hand if one believes they are lovable, they act in a very lovable and a worthwhile manner. An unhealthy self-concept for a long time leads to one being convinced that they are not worthy which then portrays in how they behave and are afraid to face other people as they believe that people view them as they view themselves. Any negative encounters then serve as a justification of their beliefs which further creates an environment for more of them to happen because someone who does not love or believe in themselves gets hurt easily.

Self-concept can therefore be said to comprise of three things; communication, self image and self expression. How one accepts themselves and how much worth they think they are then add up to how they communicate or how one expresses themselves in the presence of other people. People with a healthy self-concept know their strengths and abilities and will use them positively to achieve positive goals. They are neither proud nor arrogant, characters normally viewed as a way of covering up for an unhealthy self-concept or communication skills.

Self presentation deals with the way we carry ourselves around other people. It is also how we relate with other people and how we treat the people we meet in our daily lives. A person with an unhealthy self-concept will have a low self esteem, will expect to be treated badly and will treat other people badly in return. The motives of self presentation are to influence other people and gain rewards (Bem, 1997). These two motives may not have very loud results and its upon an individual to judge how well they did in the task. Different people will interpret the same situation differently, mostly influenced by the self-concepts we have created about ourselves.

When one believes no one notices them or what they do, a positive feedback from the people she or he is trying to influence or gain acceptance from may be translated as pretense even when it is sincere. A person with a healthy self concept and a high self esteem in return will translate the same situation positively even if it was truly pretense. When the right results are not achieved, it becomes hard for a person with an unhealthy self-concept to present themselves to people the next time even though they interpreted the outcome of their attempt wrongly.

Expression which can be considered another motive of communication and self expression helps men and women construct an image of their selves and claim personal identity. We they are able to present ourselves in a manner that is consistent with the image we have created of ourselves. If we then feel restricted, we tend to exhibit the same towards other people and we try to assert our freedom to other people which may not turn out well. A good example is children with extremely strict parents whose believes that they have suppressed personal identities causes them to eventually backlash at everyone around them by being unfriendly or arrogant in the way they communicate. This is mostly viewed as a cover up for the negative self-concepts they have created about themselves and want to prove to the world that that which they think they are is not true even when other people may not view them as they view themselves. A healthy self-concept is therefore very important for developing positive communication and good self presentation skills.

Thought analysis

Critical thinking has been taught to people in varying degrees for many years but sometimes all a situation takes is taking away all the complexity, all the emotions and looking at it in a simpler perspective to understand it. An individual can close the critical thinking skills gap through applying simple but experienced knowledge on whatever situation they are trying to analyze. In a world where issues seem more and more complex each day, perhaps learning to get the emotions out of situations and viewing them just as they are would be a very simplistic yet real way of solving them. It is important to understand the process of analysis before you can start to synthesis things and then embark on some level of creativity. It is about making things simpler and easier to understand by making sense of some behaviors by individuals and coalitions that may seem odd to someone from the outside.

The huge number of people involved in this debate and the amount of interest it has generated has made it very complex and sometimes hard to understand for a normal average man or woman. With the realization that people needed to take up more aggressive measures bridge the many differences between men and women before they got out of hand, as everyone watched in frustration with one attempt after the other failing to work, theorists needed to come together and do something. Theorists aimed at pursuing a variety of goals to reach the major goal of coming up with a solution to what is sometimes perceived as a crisis capable of crumbling effective communication between people, and especially in family settings or a relationship between a man and a woman.

It’s an essential purpose to ensure that all factors are weighed equally when compared with the responsibilities in the decision making process undertaken anytime coalitions are formed between a man and a woman through communication, or any time people converse together for a common interest. When theorists started coming together for the purposes of seeing this crisis managed in way that would minimize conflicts and misunderstandings, there were considerations that a big percentage of the people agreed that neither men or women were responsible for the differences. The differences are all part of. This only means that a lot of negotiations and sacrifices have to be made as well as bargaining to come together and agree on the goals both men and women want to achieve in settings where they have to work together, which is everywhere in today’s world. Even though both men and women’s reactions and way of handling different situations is viewed by many as only based on natural assumptions, they have always been ready to come together for what they consider a worthy cause on things that need to be accomplished in the society.

Reaction and emotions are part of human beings from birth. Thought analysis takes into consideration that such events are about real people and therefore involves a lot of emotions. When involved in tough situations therefore, we may not be able to remove the emotions out of it and look at the situation in a simple but clear manner. In thought analysis, it is important to detach oneself from the situation and look at it from a very factual point of view. When analyzing gender differences in communication for example, it is easy to get too involved in the community and people’s emotions and attitude and forget to address the real issues which lie deeper in creation, many which cannot be changed or influenced.

Relations

In a human beings relationship domain, trust is about each party feeling secure enough about the other person and what they are offering, knowing it will meet their expectations and satisfy their humanly needs. The feeling is based on the peoples’ reliability and what they offer, and what they intend to do for the other person. Human being’s reliability is based on assumption that they have the required capacity to respond to each other’s needs and in turn fulfill the existing expectations from each other. This they do by doing their best to offer exactly what the other person need and by offering it at a quality level. The only way a man or woman would do this is if they fully understood what the other person expects from them. People can only give such kind of information if they have a developed a level of trust for another person which happens slowly as relationships are established within them.

Stability plays an important factor in gaining each other’s trust. Both men and women will only be willing to let in another person or a group after they have seen what they can do and how reliable what they are offering is. For women, a person who offers emotional support and security may be more appealing to them. For men, someone who offers understanding may be more appealing to them. If someone is consistent and what they offer has consistency, it becomes easier for the other person to trust them. It also requires that a person or organization gives the recipient a promise of better future relationships. It then is a person’s responsibility to fulfill the promises if they have to establish and maintain trust and maintain a healthy relationship between them and the other person.

People’s intentions are considered more abstract due to their effective and emotional origins, taking into consideration the fact that people have all different sorts of information about the same issue of concern. An individual may therefore be more vulnerable to another person’s decisions and actions and need to be assured that the other person in the communication chain will not take advantage of their vulnerability to exploit them. If a person is in a habit of breaking promises made on different issues and aspects of life in which both are engaged in, the other will easily loss their trust in them. Social relations, which are highly dependent on trust, are therefore very dependent on how the promises one makes are met.

It allows people to feel more appreciated and view themselves as equal partners in any partnership, whether social, family, professional or political. When people feel valued regardless of their gender, it encourages them to give their suggestions and air out their complaints more easily. In so doing, this is a chance to work on any mistakes on challenges that make it hard for men and women to communicate. It builds confidence among those who are then willing to stand by each other even when differences exist. Satisfying relationships leave people more willing to talk about their experience with other people helping improve on communication skills as well as allowing everyone understand expectations. This also means reduced complexity on the topic of gender differences in communication.

Human relations between people of different genders are a collaborative effort between both but obligates a bigger responsibility to an individual. It is an individual’s responsibility to build stability, earn and retain the other person’s trust on them. This way, a relationship is offered the most effective way of collecting information which is feedback from each other. With first hand information, a person is definitely able to understand the differences between them and the other person, as well as understand solutions which are as close to the other person’s preferences as possible.

Apart from the dynamic nature of men and women, perceived complications associated with a relationship between the two plays an important role when trying to understand communication, and formulate theories on the same. Some relationships may create bigger risks than others, while some will create no risk at all. Some relationships and communication may put one in a situation in which they faces ambiguity or uncertainty in terms of satisfaction. Communication between men, women and between both is supposed to be simple enough to a level where every gender can relate with the other easily. The expectations must also be simple enough to avoid disappointments and ambiguity, as well as allow ensure sustainable communication in their day to day lives. These challenges and issues have been the basis of many theories formulated to explain what differences exist between men and women, and why they exist.

Conclusion

As explained in the beginning of the paper, “the basic building block to all human interaction and relationships is communication, whether verbal and non verbal” (Gustafsson and Lindenfors, 2004). In any communication platform, there is need to create safe and healthy environments where people can feel to free to communicate freely, regardless of their differences. There is also need for awareness on the differences that exist between men and women to reduce the levels of frustrations when the two discover they have different goals and drives in the same conversation. It might be really difficult and even impossible in some instances if someone can’t communicate effectively. This obviously affects personal, professional and social relationships. It affects the way children are raised, how organizations operate, and how communities interact, and how nations are build, among other areas of life.

Both sociologists and the lifestyle expert, who formed part of the interviews panel, agreed that ensuring open communication channels between men and women is the first step towards identifying problems and implementing solutions. From the questionnaires, it is also evident that communication plays a significant role in society, since 100% of those who answered the question agree to that. In order for gender differences between men and women to be understood, and solutions developed to realize the benefits various communication skills mix, incentives, recognition, rewards, and strict discipline measures are key strategies towards ensuring that they deliver. It is also important for both men and women to realize their role in bridging these differences and ensuring their differences bring more benefits than damage. All the intervieews agreed that doing so will go a long way in developing communities, social development and organizational development.

It is critical that each party makes it completely easy for the other to communicate without any discomfort. Managing gender differences and diversity the way we behave will make more sense in an effort to ensure everyone expresses their feelings freely (Wood, 2009). The avenue should be open for all topics and issues that affect them. This should include sensitive issues such as disagreements on their differences. The differences as discussed in the paper are many and big. While women may be conservative where risks are concerned, men are bold and will take bigger risks, among other differences. It is therefore paramount that each party understands this before building teams and putting people together for tasks either in a family, professional, and community settings. Allowing them to communicate is the only way to understand their communication weaknesses and strengths. Language barriers should also be addressed to ensure everyone can communicate with each other effectively. Like Gustafsson and Lindenfors (2004) explain, there can never be success in a team when people don’t have each other’s best interests at heart. It is also not possible when people are attempting to bring each other down.

In today’s scenario, there are various communication skill mix trends available for the community sector. As Smith and Mackie (2007) explains “more industries today choose to develop increased awareness of the need to treat job measurement as a process for managing relatives, which, as necessary, has to adopt to new organizational environments and much greater role flexibility”. As far as communication is concerned, others choose integrated communication skill development structures that cover every person regardless of their sex. Communication skill development in social and community arenas should cover all people regardless of the level of work, education, experiences or responsibilities.

While debates rages on whether people should just accept the differences and move on, or they should work towards finding solutions, it is important to establish those factors that make it easier for men and women to view these differences as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. It is important for them to understand each other’s expectations and work towards meeting them in the best way possible. This they do by doing their best to offer exactly what the other person need and by offering it at a quality level. The only way a man or woman would do this is if they fully understood what the other person expects from them. People can only give such kind of information if they have a developed a level of trust for another person which happens slowly as relationships are established within them.

Reference List

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Dindia, K & Daniel, J 2009, Sex differences and similarities in communication, New York, Taylor & Francis.

Gray, J., 1992, Men are from mars, women are from venus, London, Vermilion.

Gustafsson, A & Lindenfors, P 2004, Human size evolution: No allometric relationship between male and female stature, Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 47 no.4, pp. 253-266.

Jones, M.G, Ann, H & Melissa, J.R 2000, Gender differences in student’s experiences, interests, and attitudes towards science and scientists, Science Education, vol. 84 no. 2, pp. 180-192.

Matlin, M.W 2012, The psychology of women, Beltmon, CA, Wadsworth Learning.

McBurney, D & Theresa, L.W 2010, Research methods, Belmont, CA, Adsworth Cengage Learning.

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Mulvaney, B.M 2004, Gender differences communication qualifies as a form of intercultural communication and offers advice on how to develop effective intercultural communication skills when speaking across genders, Web.

Murphy, L 2002, Mars and venus at work: Critics aim to bring gray back down to earth, Web.

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Appendices

Interview questions

  1. What is the role of communication in our day-to-day lives?
  2. What are the major differences between men and women in communication?
  3. How does it affect the way the two communicate?
  4. How does the way we are brought up influence these differences?
  5. What is the role of culture in creating differences?
  6. In your opinion, should the differences be a reason for concern to either of the genders?

Questionnaire

What does communication mean to you?

  • Yes
  • No

Is the way people communicate to you important?

  • Yes
  • No

Do you agree that there are differences in communication between men and women?

  • Yes
  • No

Do you think any gender is better than the other in communication?

  • Yes
  • No

Explain your answer______________________________________________________

What is the role of power in communication for men and women?

Are men and women driven by the same issues in communication?

  • Yes
  • No

Do you find it difficult to communicate with people from the opposite sex?

  • Yes
  • No

Are men driven by winning in communication?

  • Yes
  • No

Are the differences between men and women a weakness or strength

  • Weakness
  • No

How do these differences affect business organizations?

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NerdyRoo. (2022, October 26). Gender Differences in Communication. Retrieved from https://nerdyroo.com/gender-differences-in-communication/

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"Gender Differences in Communication." NerdyRoo, 26 Oct. 2022, nerdyroo.com/gender-differences-in-communication/.

1. NerdyRoo. "Gender Differences in Communication." October 26, 2022. https://nerdyroo.com/gender-differences-in-communication/.


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NerdyRoo. 2022. "Gender Differences in Communication." October 26, 2022. https://nerdyroo.com/gender-differences-in-communication/.

References

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