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IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (JHSS)
ISSN: 2279-0837, ISBN: 2279-0845. Volume 2, Issue 1 (Sep-Oct. 2012), PP 18-27
www.iosrjournals.org
Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of
Communicational Approaches of Men and Women at Workplaces
1
Prof Vinita Mohindra, 2Dr. Samina Azhar
(1Head, Department of Humanities& Social Sciences, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal
India)
(2Assistant Professor Department of Humanities& Social Sciences, Maulana Azad National Institute of
Technology, Bhopal India)
Abstract: Globalization has resulted in multi-cultural and diverse workforces across the globe. Diversity in a
workplace increases adaptability amongst employees; different talents of various individuals have become great
resources, which also result in a pool of unique contributions. As a diverse genders and culture comes together,
it provides a spectrum of viewpoints to meet objectives and accomplish goals. Thus diverse work force is an
environment where people accept differences rather than deny them. If we pay attention to gender differences,
we just might untangle the gender communications knots and get the job done faster and make working
environment hassle free. Successful organizations need to create effective communication within a diverse
workforce. In order to do so, it is necessary to focus on the gender differences in communication
patterns. Overlooking the differences between the two gender roles can cause confusion and biases thus
consequently having a negative impact on the overall organizational performance. However, gender
issues arising from misunderstanding could be reduced within the organization by establishing equilibrium
between men and women. The only way to have a healthy working atmosphere within an organization is to
identify the differences and find ways to bridge the communication gulf between the sexes. Through two quizzes
an attempt has been made in this work to explore different approaches followed by male and female associates
to communicate in an organization.
I.
Introduction-
Since last two to three decades there has been a growing discussion on gender based communication at
workplace with more women entering managerial ranks a rapid increase in number of women in the workplace
worldwide has presented a challenging situation for the communication cycle within the organization. Hence the
communication between colleagues of opposite sexes becomes more significant for the success of the
organization. Books such as Deborah Tannen’s (1990) You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in
Conversation and (1994) Talking from 9 to 5, Marian Woodall’s (1990) How to Talk so Men Will Listen, and
John Gray’s (1992) Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars have immensely contributed to the recognition
of gender communication.
Gender communication differences begin during childhood. Girls are told to use their manners, play
quietly, and be ladylike. However it is okay for boys to use rough language, play loudly, and be rambunctious.
Girls are allowed to show feelings. For example, if a small girl scrapes her knee and starts to cry, she is
nurtured. If a boy has the same minor injury, he is told not to cry and be tough. Hence girls develop a relational
style of interaction whereas boys develop a competitive style of interaction. While studying the contrasts
between men and women in the workplace, one should not remember neither one gender’s style is better than the
other. Men are perfectly right to be more direct while women are perfectly right to be people-oriented, even in
the workplace. “Women are nurturers, and this quality can enhance any work situation. Men are natural
providers. They are task-oriented and like to get the job done. These two styles complement each other
perfectly, as long as there is an openness and understanding on each part” .1
Talking to Nancy Clark Martha Barletta says, “When men communicate they’re concerned with
conveying information and establishing status. When women communicate they’re concerned with conveying
information and building connections…… When men are not successful, they tend to attribute it to external
factors. The opposite is true for women. When women have a failure, they tend to attribute it to their own
shortcomings. And when they succeed, they tend to link it to external factors, such as teamwork and luck….
Since men’s gender culture is hierarchical, their main concern is ensuring that they get up the corporate ladder.
So they express, and are expected to express, their accomplishments and their strengths. Women are in an
egalitarian gender culture so they tend to downplay their own role in the success. Women see any attempt to put
oneself up as disruptive to building connections”. 2
Research indicates men and women socialize differently and consequently, have diverse styles of
speaking. “The sexes often speak virtually different languages. Tannen calls it “report talk” versus. “rapport
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
3
talk.”.
Rapport talk is indirect style containing the following features
 Use of Qualifiers, Succinct style
 Apologizing
 Taking Blame
 Thanks
 Maintaining an Appearance of Equality, Downplaying Qualifications
 Considering the other Person and relationship
 Downplaying Authority
Report talk includes the following features
 Direct Requests
 Longer Talk at Meetings
 Ritual Fighting, Teasing, Banter
 Giving Advice to Solve Problems rather than Showing Support
 Mixing Business and Non-business talk
 Rarely Give Praise or Compliments

Avoiding the One-down Position, Downplaying Doubts
According to Deborah Tannen, “men are more likely to engage in what is referred to, as report talk,
which is primarily characterized by “focus on content”. Men talk about affairs that are public matters, such as
sports or politics. During report talk, men demonstrate their knowledge about a subject and will give general
information about the topic”.4 She further says “that rapport talk, on the other hand, is designed to establish
relationships and make people in relationships feel closer to each other. Women are engaged in this kind of talk
more often than men. Rapport talk deals with more intimate matters than report talk hence includes topics such
as family and marital relationships”.5
The male communication pattern and traits tend to be honest, direct, and factual. It is considered
“report” type talk. The communication behaviors men tend to possess are as follows:
 reason
 logic
 power
 rank
 status
 compete
 winning
 team
 think
Men view conversation as a means to exchange information and problem solve. Men stay away from
personal topics and discuss events, sports, news, and facts. They tell more stories and jokes than women as a
way to show status and power. Men are direct, blunt, and speech includes slang or swears words. Men get
straight to work on a task and build relationships while working on the project. Men reflect and process
information for decision making internally.
Women avoid using aggressive and threatening language irrespective of their position. They exhibit
their subordinate status by being polite and soft spoken and demonstrate their authority in the same way but with
a little bit of discipline and straight face. In both the cases they avoid direct and threatening communication.
Women want to be with their families, help others, feel respected and cared about, be a part of a community, be
proud of the company they work for and be trusted. All of this reflects their need for connection and
relationship, which is also the main reason why women are so well-suited for business their natural ability to
develop and maintain relationships. Women talk to build rapport and make connections. They discuss personal
topics like relationships, feelings, and past experiences. Women take turns communicating. Women tend to be
indirect, tactful, and use more courtesy words. Women accomplish tasks by building relationships first. Women
talk out loud to others, processing information externally for decision making.
The female communication pattern and traits tend to be nurturing, indirect, and respectful. It is considered
“rapport” type talk. The communication behaviors women tend to possess are as follows:
 feeling
 empathy
 harmony
 closeness
 relationships
 sharing
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and



cooperation
group
intuitive
Considering nonverbal communication women gain an upper hand over their male counterparts
Women interpret nonverbal communication better than men. Men are less comfortable with making eye contact
than women. Apparently, it has something to do with dominance, power and status. Direct eye contact is a sign
of emotion. So, the less eye contact shared the less emotion. In terms of gestures, postures and facial
expressions, results appear to be mixed. But, basically, men and women use gestures, postures, touch and facial
expressions differently. For example, women tend to smile and use facial expressions more than men do. Men
appear more relaxed in posture while women appear tenser.
Men and women communicate on different levels and their communicational approaches are also
different. It can be ascertained from the following presentation:
S.No
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Levels of Communication between Men and Women
Men
Women
Men keep their problems to themselves Women are more likely to talk to other women when
and don’t see the point in sharing
they have a problem or need to make a decision.
personal issues.
Men tend to relate to other men on one- They are more relationship oriented, and look for
up and one-down basis. Status and
commonalities and ways to connect with other
dominance is important.
women.
Men focus on talking and providing
They focus on building rapport, by sharing
information rather than asking
experiences and asking questions.
questions. They share experiences as a
way of being one-up.
Men can have a disagreement, move on If women have a disagreement with each other it
to another subject and go get a drink
affects all aspects of their relationship.
together
Men build relationships while they are
Get things done at work by building relationships.
working on tasks with each other.
Men move to solutions and problem
Women want to talk about the problems and solve
solving right away.
them collaboratively.
For men asking for help reflects an
Offering help and advice is a sign of care.
inability to achieve on one’s own merit.
Men listen to the main points. They are They listen to each and every word; they show
selective listeners.
attentiveness through verbal and non-verbal cues.
Table1: Levels of Communication between Men and Women
Earlier women used to be much more “quiet and passive” in the workplace due to the relatively small
number of female employees in comparison to males. Women today, on the other hand, have begun assuming
their positions by using all their God given powers of intelligence and organization. Warren Farrell, author of
Why Men Are the Way They Are, explains that men are jealous of the “beauty power”6 that allows women to get
certain things based on their physical assets. It is totally absurd conclusion to be honest perhaps it’s less that
women use their beauty, and more likely that men judge them based on their physical beauty.
According to some researchers, men use an instrumental style of communication. Instrumental style of
communication for men is to focus on identifying goals and finding a solution. Women communicate in an
expressive style. The expressive style involves emotions and having a perspective of being sensitive to how
others feel. A deeper awareness of how differently men and women communicate is necessary in order to
prevent these gender differences from leading to resentment, decreased productivity and workplace stress.
Whether they like it or not, men have to accept, once and for all, that women are marching up the corporate
ladder confidently and with full speed ahead. The study of differences cannot be based on stereotypes suppose
that the question is: who interrupts more, men or women? Some studies will have found that men interrupt
more, others that women do, and others may have found no significant difference. In some studies the reported
gender difference will be large, while in others it will be much smaller. Therefore number of men and women
whose communication styles were to be investigated will vary from study to study.
As the aim of the study is to examine the various approaches adopted by different genders, two quizzes
involving people of opposite genders at workplace were distributed to the members of different organizations.
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
Their responses were analysed to find out communicational strategies, styles and approaches adopted by a male
or a female. The analysis helped in reaching the conclusion so that the objectives of the study can be attained.
Gender Communication Quiz I
The participants were asked to indicate beside each adjective below which gender the word best
describes. They were instructed to tick in the relevant column or in the both columns if the word immediately
brings to mind both men and women. The following is the outcome:
Words
Male
Female
Logical
12
3
Intuitive
9
6
Gentle
6
9
Fashionable
5
10
Talkative
7
8
Critical
4
11
Outspoken
5
10
Aggressive
5
10
Funny
8
7
Emotional
5
10
Assertive
7
8
Manipulative
7
8
Interrupt More
9
6
Graphical Representations
20
12
10
3
Logical
0
Male Female
Figure1.2
9
10
6
5
Intuitive
0
Male Female
Figure: 1.3
10
6
9
5
Gen…
0
MaleFemale
Figure: 1.4
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
10
10
5
5
Fashiona…
0
Male
Female
Figure: 1.5
8
8
7
7
Talkati…
6
Male
Female
Figure: 1.6
15
10
5
0
11
4
Critical
Male Female
Figure: 1.7
10
10
5
5
Outspoken
0
Male Female
Figure: 1.8
10
5
0
5
10
Aggress…
Male
Female
Figure: 1.9
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
8
8
7.5
7
6.5
7
Funny
Male Female
Figure: 2.1
10
10
5
5
Emotional
0
Malefemale
Figure: 2.2
8
7.5
7
6.5
8
7
Assertive
MaleFemale
Figure: 2.3
8
7
6
7
8
Manipulative
Male
Female
Figure: 2.4
10
5
0
9
6
Interrupt more
Male
Female
Figure: 2.5
It clearly reflects the findings amongst a group of individuals as to how they feel about the adjective,
whether it describes a male or a female. For most cases the results are very close calls yet are very decisive for
the others. The graphs have different scales and are to be interrupted with the values, from which we can draft
the following conclusions. Fashionable is a term which earlier used to be synonyms to a lady but now we have
seen a shift as even other gender is finding reasons to look good. Talkative was a trait associated with women
but now we see that even males are finding space and points to be more talkative. Still women are found to more
emotional yet intuitive and being diplomatic is something that is in them since ages. Males are still more rational
and can interpret data more easily and are yet more hilarious. Taking into account the trait of being critical
women have always had an edge and are still making the others bow down to their trait though still men are
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
more logical. Therefore we have to consider that these differences are typical. Not all traits listed under male or
female are strictly one or the other. Anyone can have any combination of traits.
The key point demonstrated by the exercise is this: just because a woman may be emotional, too
sensitive in certain situations, talkative, and caring, does not preclude her from also being decisive, competent,
intelligent, and driven. And just because a man might be decisive, aggressive, logical, and independent does not
mean that he is not also sensitive, and gentle in certain situations, and a good cook. This confirms that the longstanding expectation that women will serve and care for others is not unrelated to their position as the second
sex.
II.
Gender Communication Quiz
Men and women in business can be equal in almost every way: position, experience, expertise,
professional experience, educational background, and intelligence. Despite these similarities, chances are men
and women can be very different in one critical area: the way in which they communicate. It’s not that an
inherently male or female way of communication is better or more correct; the styles are just different.
Understanding the inherent communication differences between men and women will help you to enhance your
ability to communicate successfully with others, and to hear, interpret and comprehend others’ messages without
judgment.
In the second quiz a questionnaire of fifteen questions was distributed to fifty professionals of diverse
gender and fields including medical, technical and academics. It has been found while cataloguing the answers
that the statements related to personal affection, bundle of gestures and talking with intuition, all traits, are
associated to polite gender. Here by polite gender we refer to the females. Females are often intuitive and even
at times appear oracular. As far as the personal space is considered men are found to be the most probable
invaders of all times. Getting to some talking business, one wouldn’t find any discrepancies in this summary one
would without any argument agree to the findings that females tend to speak less while they are in a
conversation with males and the findings also indicate that they speak at turtle rates.
The quiz depicts various traditional norms related to the standard patterns of communication between
opposite genders. It tries to explore with what women wish men knew about them or what men wish women
knew about them. The green colour in the pie chart represents false whereas red colour represents true.
Graphical Orientations
1. Men talk more than women
Figure:2.6
2. Men are more likely to interrupt women than they are to interrupt other men
Figure:2.7
3. Nonverbal messages carry more weight than verbal messages.
Figure:2.8
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
4. Female managers communicate with more emotional openness and drama than male managers
Figure:2.9
5. Men not only control the content of conversations, they also work harder in keeping conversations going
Figure: 3.1
6. When people hear general words such as “mankind” and “he,” they respond inclusively, indicating: that the
terms apply to both sexes.
Figure:3.2
7. In classroom communications, male students receive more reprimands and criticism than female students.
Figure:3.3
8. Women are more likely than men to disclose information on intimate personal concerns.
Figure:3.4
9. Female speakers are more animated in their conversational style than are male speakers.
Figure:3.5
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Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Approaches of Men and
10. Women use less personal space than men.
Figure:3.6
11. When a male speaks, he is listened to more carefully than a female speaker, even when she makes an
identical presentation.
Figure:3.7
12. In general, women speak in a more tentative style than do men
Figure:3.8
13. Women are more likely to answer questions that are not addressed to them
Fig …
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