Gender Lives and Communication

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GenderLives and Communication

Inthe “He said She said” video, Deborah Tannen is engaged in adiscussion in which she sheds light on the differences oncommunication patterns and use of language between males and females.When the differences are overlooked or are not understood, thecommunication between the&nbspsexes will often go awry which couldresult to poor relationships.

Tannenpoints out that, during the early stages of life boys and girls playdifferently and also learn to use language in very different ways.Language for girls is mostly used to create intimacy, which helpsthem to get closer to other people, while boys’ use of languagedemonstrates independence. An naturalistic observation demonstratingcommunication styles between boys and girls of ages 5, 10 and 15,shows differences such as girls engage in face to faceconversations, while boys’ conversations, are often side by side,girls demonstrate attention in a conversation through eye contact andother body language while boys do not necessarily demonstrateattention using eye contact or other body language. Tannensays such patterns are carried on in life, and failure to understandsuch differences lead to misunderstandings and misjudging.

Itis an accurate observation that males and females use language andcommunicates differently. Although Tannen expresses the opinion that,communication style and language use differences are biologically andculturally influenced, there could be other contributing factors. Forexample, considering the differences of body language between the twogenders, Tannen seem to suggest that, it is natural for girlscommunicate face to face and boys side by side. However depending onthe importance of the topic under discussion, and how interesting itis to the participants in the conversation, males can as welldemonstrate attention through body language and in particular eyecontact. On the other hand, girls who prefer face to faceconversation can as well shun face to face conversation especially ifthe topic under discussion is not interesting to one of them or both.

Althoughnatural difference may exist, like preference of side by sideconversation by males, unlike face to face by females, formalitywhich comes with seriousness would also influence communicationstyles for both males and females. In work environment for example,meeting rooms’ settings seem to encourage face to faceconversations which can be interpreted to encourage attention.Importance of the topics under discussion would therefore influenceboth males’ and females’ body language and active participation.This agrees with Tannen calls private and public talk where males aresaid to participate more in public talks unlike when in privateconversation with their female partners.

Cultureand religion would significantly influence communication andinterpretation of messages between males and females. During earlystages of life, socialization into culture and religion cannot beavoided. As much as some of the communication patterns differencesfor males and females could be said to be natural, some patterns areinstilled by religion and culture that one is socialized into. Forexample, although, boys may prefer side by side conversation unlikegirls who prefers face to face, it would be considered disrespectfulfor a males to look sideways when in a conversation with a orderperson, whether of the same gender or not. In such cultures boys andgirls are socialized to demonstrate respect and attention by face toface conversation. In some religious setting avoiding face to faceconversation could be interpreted to mean hypocrisy and insincerity. Therefore as much as such communication patterns differences could benatural, they may be subject to change depending on religious and orcultural orientation.

Inagreement with what Tannen says, that women’s use of language ismore of negotiations to make decisions unlike men whose languagedemonstrates independence, these patters influences their differencesleadership styles. This is where males are likely to make independentdecisions unlike females who would want to engage others for approvalof their decisions. While women can therefore be said to create goodworking environment enhanced by friendly communication, males on theother hand are likely create an environment of formal communicationonly, which may result to mutual respect.

AlthoughTannen’s discussion concentrates more on interpersonalrelationships and informal communication, it points out importantcommunication and language use differences between males and femaleswhich are helpful in creating healthy relationships. It is true thatunderstanding the differences would minimize misunderstandings, andpromote creativity in solutions provision.


Green,R. &amp Lamote, S. (Producers) , &amp Camp, J. (Director).(1992). Hesaid she said. Retrieved from: