Organisational Behaviour Gender and Communication

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Business Communication


Organisational Behaviour

- Why men and women are sometimes frustrated with each other’s communication behaviours -


Every race, culture, civilization, and society on this planet shares two basic things in common: the presence of two genders, and the need to communicate between these two. The recent decades, media research has devoted a lot of time and attention to the communicational differences between male and female. Several studies note that both genders communicate differently. First, a definition of the words communication and gender.

The Webster dictionary defines gender as the “Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture. The condition of being female or male; sex”.
Communication is defined by Adler as an “ongoing, transactional process in which individuals exchange messages whose meanings are influenced by the history of the relationship and the experiences of the participants.“

Communication is a part of our everyday life. It occurs whether we intend to or not; in order to interact we need to communicate. Communication depends on relationships between the people who are communicating, and on common basis between them. Problems in interpersonal communications may arise due to differences in cultures, perceptions, values, and expectations from life. Effective communication is essential to any groups or organisation´s performance. It is therefore evident that difficulties and frustrations, often faced while communicating with the opposite sex, have many implications for organisations. A lack of communication inhibits a group´s or organisation´s ability to perform functions of management including planning, organising, leading and controlling, and affects for example people´s perceptions, attitudes and values, personality and emotions, learning, motivation, leadership, conflict and negotiation, decision making, occupational stress or organisational culture.

As in many other gender differences, miscommunication between males and females can be explained by either the biological aspect or the cultural/environmental aspect. Deborah Tannen, a University professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and an Author, suggests the biological explanation to the problem: "Sometimes when you are talking to someone from other gender, it is like you are talking to someone from another world" said Prof. Tannen while talking about communication between opposite genders. That is the main reason why girls and boys prefer to play with their own sex. A research, made by her, shows the differences in friendships between two best-friends girls, and two best-friends boys in ages five, ten and fifteen. The girls were facing each other while talking in the three cases; most of the talk was about friendship. However, the boys in the three cases where sitting in angle to each other or side-by-side, they were looking around, through the whole conversation, and never looked at each other. The fact that these differences are displayed in an early age, supports the biological explanation.

Men and women often become frustrated with each other’s communication behaviours. Using the work of Deborah Tannen it is important to recognize that these linguistic differences between men and women do not stem solely from what Tannen describes as “cross-cultural communication.” There are very apparent differences in speaking styles: women tend to offer suggestions, give reasons, gather information and include many points of view before deciding what to do, whereas men like to get to the point and control the circumstances and to have the control over other points of view to make their decisions. Women give cooperative discourses while men perceive it as a form of competition. While women express preferences by asking questions, men express their preferences directly and often blunt. Women tend to hear questions as a way to keep conversation going...
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