Communication between men and women has been an issue since time immemorial. Clearly men and women have some differences inherent in them especially in perception and communication. These differences stem from the way they are socialized as well as from inbuilt natural traits (Gray, 1992). They therefore exhibit differences in how and why they communicate and in their perception of the opposite sex’s communication.
Men are socialized to be competitive and brave. They are expected to exhibit strength of character and physical strength. Their manhood usually is dependent on achievement and strength and weakness is looked down upon. When they get families they are expected to be providers, protectors and basically the head of the family. Women on the other hand are socialized to be loving, warm, caring and submissive. These socializations may not be as emphasized today but they are in most people’s sub consciences (Romaine, 1999).
Men tend to be more practical and rational and usually would rather deal with facts. Women on the other hand tend to get personal and emotions play a big role in their day to day living. However, it is important for both men and women to understand the other gender’s perception of everyday issues and exactly what they mean when they communicate. This is because it is possible for a man and women to have completely different perceptions of the same message (Lea, 2003).
Success in the workplace, families and business depend in large on effective communication between men and women. Families break up over communication issues. When, how and why to communicate differs for men and women. One gender may communicate a message with a particular meaning that is totally misunderstood by the other gender (Carroll, 2009). One of the ways of solving gender communication problems is gaining understanding on the different gender communication patterns and being careful to analyze their different perceptions.
One of the reasons for these differences is in the way genders are socialized. From childhood, girls are taught to be ladylike, well mannered and graceful. Boys on the other hand are taught that it is okay to be rough, loud and aggressive. While girls are allowed even expected to display their emotions such as cry when they are hurt, boys are taught to be tough and not be swayed or rattled by emotions. More often they are ridiculed if they cry for being such a ‘girl’. While girls are allowed to play house and make believe, boys are pushed into more practical sports and more likely to play robbers or cops. Boys are expected to be achievers and to stay ahead of the game. Girls are not looked down upon for displaying weakness and therefore do not feel the need to compete. Therefore girls adapt a relation based style while boys adapt a competitive one (Kalblfseich, 1995).
There are also differences in the way men and women are wired. Their brain processes have been proven scientifically to be different. Men tend to process things and events in an analytical and realistic manner. Women on the other hand process things in an abstract manner. Each gender tends to assume that the other thinks in the same way they do and hence the constant conflicts and misunderstanding (Elign, 1993). Miscommunication arises when each party thinks that they are communicating clearly when they are not. Neither of them in such a case is right or wrong, they are just wired differently and in order to understand each other they need to take time to understand the opposite gender’s communication pattern (Tannen, 1990).
The male pattern of communication tends to be factual, direct and honest. They tend to steer from personal matters especially those that display weakness and their conversations possess logic, reason, power, status, and rank. Their conversations are also competitive and winning. Their conversations mostly center on sports, events, politics and news. They are blunt and direct in ways that would seem insensitive to the females. They internally process information while making decisions. Their conversation can be viewed more like a report (Legato, 2006).
The females on the other hand tend to be more respectful, sensitive, nurturing and sometimes indirect. They tend to be more engaging and rapport like. Their conversations possess empathy, feeling, sharing, cooperation and harmony. Their conversations revolve around feelings, experiences and relationships. They are considerate about other people’s feelings and are just as good at listening as they are at expressing their feelings. They also tend to be indirect and tactful. Information required for decision making is processed externally.
The above traits may differ from one individual to another but they apply in on average in the majority of both genders. In order to overcome communication barriers between genders it is important to understand these differences and put them into consideration during communication. These barriers are solvable and there is need to solve them for successful relationships in the work place and in homes.
It is therefore clear that men and women are different in the way they communicate and perceive things hence creating a communication barrier between the sexes (Backlund, 2004).
A research on men and women of diverse cultures on their culture and the way they are socialized will provide insight into the extent to which the differences in gender communication are a result of the way in which they are socialized. An analysis of their beliefs too apart from those gained through their culture is also important. If the communication problem is to be solved it is important to identify what traits, values and beliefs apply to all sexes across diverse cultures. It is also important to be able to separate stereotypes from facts and to analyze the effect of stereotypes on gender communication (Barett, 2006).