The different ways men and women communicate has been a problem throughout time. This difference in communication style has created conflict in romantic relationships, marriages, and even friendships. To think of a world where men and women communicate on the same level is almost impossible to comprehend. We have been conditioned to believe that the genders will never see on an eye-to-eye basis and have accepted this. But, is it to hard to expect that the genders speak on the same level? From my findings in research, I think there is going to be a change in the way communication in relationships is conducted. This change may even arise in my own lifetime.
Studies have shown that women are superior to men in verbal ability and men are better at visual/spatial ability. Unfortunately in most of these tests, this was only noted as slight difference and not always the case. It was only true on the average and didnt account for those who scored substantially above or below their gender groups level. These conclusions may also be based on cultural expectations and learned behaviors (Rathus 383).
Psychological studies also revealed that men are more likely to show aggression in an open environment. Women tend to avoid confrontation until they are fully aware of all circumstances and consequences. Males tend to brag about their accomplishments in a confrontational situation, whereas women may show compassion for their victim (Rathus 383). Again these may be learned behaviors, or perhaps the levels of aggression causing chemicals running through a persons body.
Communication is linked with behavior and beliefs. The way people perceive themselves and the world around them affect the way they communicate. It was once believed that males were more intelligent than females because of their greater knowledge of world affairs and their skill in science and industry. We now recognize that greater male knowledge and skill reflected not differences in intelligence but the systematic exclusion of females from world affairs, science, and industry (Rathus 382). The way people are brought up has a lot to say about the way they conduct themselves in every aspect of life, including communication. I believe that behavior is learned and, argue as you may, but everything about a persons personality is influenced by outside sources.
Males are taught from an early age how to act and react to certain stimuli. Women are often taught to be more emotional, as boys are scolded for crying. Has the phrase Dont cry like a little girl ever reached your ears? I am wondering when and who ever decided that women are allowed to cry when men are supposed to be tough and hide this vital emotion which could be used as a valuable communication tool.
Through learned behavior and taught feelings, we develop our personalities. Communication style is mostly about personality. How do people get a sense of personality? By listening to others communicate. So, from this we draw the conclusion that the way we communicate is the way we were taught to communicate. The speech classes taught throughout high school and college can prove this. From my own experience, my first speech was completely different from my final speech in class. I was taught to communicate to a crowd, how to act in front of a crowd, and how to conceal my emotions in front of that crowd in order to effectively send my message.
Gender roles are taught not only from our parents but also from common media, television, magazines, books, etc. Almost every part of our lives has some sort of outside influence, showing the norm of behavior and thinking styles. Men are to provide for a family, where women take care of the family. This alone shows that the man should be firm in his emotions and convey his thoughts in a systematic manner. Women on the other hand, use emotion in most of the aspects of their lives. Hence, adding emotion into their communication.
Then we have to take a look at the chemical make up of females and males. Females carry different chemicals in their body, mainly a lower level of testosterone and a higher level of estrogen, progesterone, etc. I believe this leads to the increased sense of protection for mothers and some basic feelings. Men, with their bodies pumped with testosterone, are easily angered, agitated, and just mean. These chemical balances play a role in the way we react hence the way we communicate. But, we can also learn to overcome these urges and again are left with what we were taught to do in certain situations. Perhaps, the body chemicals are the basis of how we feel, but we are still influenced by outside sources and learned behaviors.
Basically what Im saying is that majority of the research I did, was stereotypical. John Gray, the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, stated it himself I make many generalizations about men and women in this book. Probably you will find some comments truer than others.after all, we are unique individuals with unique experiences. (Gray).
A lot of the research stated that men think in a hierarchically structured way where it counts to achieve and maintain a high status, to declare their independence. (Tannen). Whereas womens aim at communication is to establish and maintain relationships. Women want to reach consensus and get as well as give support and confirmation in a conversation. (Tannen).
Women are also more likely to display feelings of confusion, despair, hurt, and compassion. This is a common thought when it comes to the communication styles between men and women. All of us women know that men dont stop for directions right? WRONG. Any time I am with a man and we end up lost in downtown Miami, he definitely gets out and asks for directions ASAP. Most of the material I researched followed the stories my mother and grandmother told me of their experiences in the past. From this I have drawn the conclusion that times are changing and communication will be getting easier between the genders.
Chivalry and gentlemanly conduct are becoming less of a concern with women playing more prestigious roles in society. Women are making their own money, creating their own stability, fixing their own cars, and just getting along without having to depend on a man. This means that in their communication styles they will have to establish independence, prestige, and control of situations.
Men, who now have competition with women in this aspect, may become more competitive. Some men have been heard to say I wont be beat by a girl. But this is a common statement losing its meaning. Men may be physically stronger than majority of women, but with education and experience women are soon becoming mans equal.
So, I am led to believe that men and women are moving to an equal partnership. Men are no longer needed for stability, and reassurances. Therefore, communication should become clearer. Men will have the opportunity to express feelings and emotion. They can freely discuss their problems and ask for directions at a gas station. The recent increase in numbers of gay and lesbian people coming forth and expressing their feelings to the world may be an exaggeration of these emotions. Hopefully, for the joys of certain acts of procreation, this isnt the trend to be for the future.
The original roles of man and woman are changing and evolving into a new breed of people with new ways of communication. Men and women are similar in many ways now and are not viewing life and their roles in life from different angles. More and more you hear of a man staying home to look after the children, when the mother goes out to her high paying job and supports the family. Perhaps, this new breed of communication and behaviors will lead to a reality where there is a dominant person in a relationship and a submissive one not stereotyped as male dominance and female submission. We are seeing it more and more every day, women taking charge of their lives, and men content to take care of families.
Communication, behavior, and personality are all locked in an intricate combination that creates who we are. To look at communication without personality, is merely to look at the words we are typing on this page. Verbal, nonverbal, hidden meaning, etc. these are all the things we use to deliver a message to others. And though men and women differ in the styles of communication they use. They had to have been taught these methods, be it by observation or just learned behavior. As the world changes to hold an evolving community, it will also embrace new cultures, values, and beliefs. These will all influence the way we communicate not only as a gender, but also as a whole community of people living together, talking with each other. Be it talking for the purpose of prosperity, enjoyment, teaching, and many other things, the style of communication has always changed and will continue to change along with the people using it.
Arliss, Laurie. Gender Communication. Prentice Hall, 1991.
Gray, John. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Harper Collins, 1992.
Kipnis, Aaron. Gender War, Gender Peace: The Quest for Love and Justice Between Women and Men. Morrow, 1994.
Rathus, Spencer A., Essentials of Psychology. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1994.
Tannen, Deborah. You Just Dont Understand. William Morrow and Company, New York, 1990.