Communication Differences Between Male and Female Managers

Topics: Gender, Communication, Gender role Pages: 5 (1879 words) Published: October 20, 2010
The Oxford Dictionary defines communication as the action of communication or means of sending or receiving information[1]. Our textbook defines communication as making common our understanding[2]. Throughout the years, we have all learned about communication. We start when we are a baby and we cry to let someone know that we need something, for example, food or a diaper changing. Later on, we learn to vocalize our needs and wants, as we expand our communication circle from family members to friends, teachers, significant others, and colleagues. Just as the definition of communication varies depending whom you ask, or the matter in which you are referring; male and female managers communicate in different ways with their peers and subordinates. Little did we know that the communication differences we experienced as children on the playground would move from the classroom to the boardroom. Based on her research, Deborah Tannen concludes that “boys’ and girls’ early social lives are so different that they grow up in what are essentially different cultures.”[3] Therefore, talk between women and men could be considered cross-cultural communication, lined with as many potential misunderstandings as communication which would take place between individuals from different countries, ethnic backgrounds, or languages. Tannen’s view establishes that men see themselves as engaged in a hierarchical social order in which they are either "one up or one down" in relation to others. Their communication styles and reactions to others' communications often stress the need to "preserve independence and avoid failure."[4] Women, on the other hand, tend to see the world as a network of connections, and their communications and interpretations of others' communications seek to "preserve intimacy and avoid isolation."[5] As the face of business transforms with more women occupying key management positions, the requirement of reducing the gender communication gap is growing. Miscommunication can cost money, opportunities, and jobs. Researchers in the 1970’s predicted the disappearance of gender communication differences as women moved into higher management positions, however, the gap or "disconnection" remains. The lack of awareness surfaces most often in organizations where one gender mainly communicates with members of the same gender. One example would be stock brokers; for years, male stock brokers have been selling mostly to other males – which creates a comfort zone. Another example is the real estate industry where female agents dominate. A third example is the health-care industry, specifically nursing. In fact, the potential for gender communication gaps are widest in those organizations where one gender takes up most of the senior executive positions. As the traditional picture changes and both men and women must communicate in teams, manage, and work with the other gender, their awareness grows. Yet the result is often frustration. In other words, they both experience the problem, but do not know where to begin in order to rectify these breakdowns in communication. 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. Companies that create cultures which encourage both genders in their career paths, recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of both men and women, will be the most productive and satisfied. That will be the competitive advantage of these companies in the future. It is important to recognize these differences in the way the two genders communicate and be more effective with the other half of the business community. Conversational rituals among men include banter, joking, teasing, playful put-downs, and an effort to avoid the one down position in the interaction. Conversational rituals among women are often ways of maintaining...
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