Gender Communication

With the world the way it is, at some point in your life you will, in fact, have to talk to someone of the opposite sex. Your conversation may be business related, talking to your significant other, or just a conversation with a stranger to pass the time. Bottom line is that you can't make it anywhere in the world without speaking to someone of the other gender. Therefore, it is important to understand how and why they communicate. You must understand how others communicate to: get what you want, avoid confrontation, and to just have healthy relationships with others.After reading You Just Don't Understand, and Talking From 9 to 5 (both written by Deborah Tannen) I have been able to see how each sex communicates differently and I have also encountered people who go against Tannens' theories.

Differences are evident in athletics, the work place, with groups of children, relationships, and I have seen differences in gays and lesbians.Whatever you read in the next few pages is not the truth about every person in the world. What you must understand is that I am sharing my personal experiences with gender communication processes.

Gays and Lesbians Again I state, not everything I write is the end all truth about everyone. These are things that I have observed. It has been my experience that both gays and lesbians have pretty much taken on the opposite gender roles that Tannen talks about. My girlfriend had this one male friend who happens to be a homosexual. I have only met him about three times and he has always seemed to be extremely feminine.My girlfriend says that he is always behaving in such a manner.

Most of his femininity is portrayed through his non-verbal communication. His hands are constantly flailing about his body while he talks. These gestures are always in a girlish way with one hand on his hips and his other hand is often out in front of his body with his palm facing the ground. Hw is also very touchy feely. Whenever he wants to really emphasize a point he will put his hand on your arm or at least reach out for you with his hand like many women do.

When something doesn't go his way he will often pout. This is not the manliest of gestures. His special distance is also different than most men. Many times men will stand only close enough so that you hear what they are saying.

Being to close causes discomfort. Whenever he speaks to someone or someone is speaking to him he closes the distance between the two people. He often talks about shopping, cooking, and how good looking certain men are.All of these things are predominantly female's forms of entertainment. I have also seen this role-reversal with women as well. In two separate jobs I have become friends with two lesbian women.

In many ways these two women are very similar. I met both of them through different sport related jobs. You don't often find too many women in the sport related field.

Both of their attitudes were very similar. If I had to use one word to describe them, I would say they were aggressive. Whatever they wanted they would go after it and usually get it.

Both had extremely loud voices when the spoke. They weren't yelling that is just they way they spoke. My guess is they just wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention to them. The way they would talk about things and the things they would talk about made it seem like they were just one of the guys. They both felt more comfortable talking in this manner. Neither of them wanted to be "ladylike" as they put it.

They each came across as if they were the best and would always try to prove it. No matter how outrageous a story you could ponder up they both, somehow, would have a better one.They both wanted that one-up relationship. When I would ask them about what they did growing up they both said they were tomboys. They were always hanging out with the guys playing football, baseball, help build tree forts, tag, and any other game boys play.

Both would always talk about sports, which was probably why I got along with them so well. They would always tell me how dumb girls were. This was probably another reason why I liked them so much. They were so much different to talk to then the other girls. I learned a lot from them because they were similar to me (besides physical characteristics). With this last section I, in no way, was trying to undermine Tannen.

I thought that what she had written was right on the money. I just don't think she ever thought about the gay and lesbian angle. I just find it interesting for an expert to miss such a topic that is growing in recent years.

Little Kids My family is full of little kids. Half of them are boys and the other half is girls. All the kids are ranging from about four years old to eleven of age.

One of those kids is my eleven-year-old brother. It is safe to say that I have seen a lot of interaction of kids between these kids running around my house and my own experiences in my childhood.Growing up I was just surrounded by the boys. Whether they were my friends or my cousins (Sadly, back then I didn't have any female friends, not much has changed). Everyday, we would decided to meet at our spot which was a giant green dumpster.

Our conversation was the same everyday. Someone would ask, "What are we going to do today?" We would all just look at each other for a few minutes. Finally, someone would suggest football. Everyone would cheer and give praise to that person for coming up with the idea. Now that I am older I look back and think the whole thing was odd.

We all knew we were going to play football because no matter what day it was we always played a game of football. The one who suggested it that day was the leader for that day (leadership changed almost everyday). In our unwritten rulebook the leader made the rules of the game. Again, the rules were the same everyday.

We picked teams and the rules were stated.Someone would always challenge the rules by asking a question about the rules or straight up say they should be different. His teammates would back up whoever did the challenging by ganging up in an argument against the other team. It never occurred to any of us as to why this woul! d happen, but now I see that as typical boys we were going for that one-up status. We didn't like to be controlled by others we wanted to show that even though we didn't have the "official power" we could threaten power, and that was often enough.Everything with they boys is a competition.

There always has to be a winner and unfortunately someone has to be the loser. Young girls are a bit different. Most every time I have witnessed girls playing, they are doing so cooperatively. Playing games that no one can emerge triumphant such as house and doctor. They seem to just like being with each other.

They would actually talk instead of argue. Often times they would compliment the other or imply with a gesture that she understood what the other was saying and it was important. It is funny because the girls I know are only six and seven years old and they are talking about their dream man and the ideal house. I can understand the ideal house idea, but I thought they were a little too young to be thinking about relationships. Nothing along those lines ever crossed my mind at that age, but boys "mature" a lot later in life (if at all, they say).

If two of the girls would be in conversation they both had a smile on their face. The physical distance between them closed, as the conversation got more exciting to them.The listener would continuously nod her head in agreement and reach out with her hand to touch the other. It was almost as if whatever came out of the others mouth was the word of God.

They were both awestruck with each other. Just this past Thanksgiving weekend I got to see something quite interesting. All of my little cousins were at my house. There were twelve all together, eight girls and four boys. They were hanging out all day boys played football, girls watched and played patty cake games, and later they would take turns playing on the swings.

Their big scheme, however, was to keep having parades run through my house to show the family. They never announced what kind of parade they were having, but once you saw it you could tell whether a boy or girl organized it. The first parade was boy organized. They came out dressed in military clothes, carrying guns and other military related objects.My brother was the leader. It was funny because the boys were happy.

The girls weren't too happy about boy run parades but they went through with it anyway. Never made a fuss about it. They didn't help with the organization they just did what they were told. Then the girls got to run some parades. They were happy parades with bears and things of that nature. The boys would complain about it and make suggestions of what should be in it.

Then the girls would tell them what to do and what order to be in. The boys would complain and again say what should be done. They couldn't keep their mouths shut like the girls could. Boys at any age dislike being ordered around by girls.

They always think that they know more whatever the situation. Significant Other Dealing with your significant other may be the hardest conversation to hold. Whether you are the male or female, you will never have the right answer in the eyes of the other.Men and women are very different from each other. Men's conversations are based mostly on a, "Just the facts" level. However, women want facts, emotions, and anything else they could possibly say.

The funny part is that both the male and the female want the other to be their way, which is an unfair request. According to Tannen, "Men engage the world as individuals in the hierarchical social order in which they are either one-up or one-down. In this world, conversations are negotiations in which people try to achieve and maintain the upper hand if they can, and protect themselves from others' attempts to put them down and push them around. Life, then, is a contest, a struggle to preserve independence and avoid failure.

" Being a woman myself, these last statements make perfect sense to me. I believe life is this competition and I don't want to lose.This is probably why there is, overall, more aggression and violence in the male world.

I think that if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, someone else can easily capitalize on it and have the one-up status on you, which is a very bad thing. If you limit what you say, it is easy to keep the other in suspense, and you can keep the one-up status on the other person, which in our eyes is a very good thing. Now, I don't think everyman is like this all the time.Sometimes men do like to actually talk with other men and women just for the sake of talking. This book makes it seem that men are always keeping to themselves and never talking just to talk.

There are plenty of times that I just like to sit around and talk with my friends. I am always hearing guys in the locker room just talking their heads off in the locker rooms sounding like a bunch of girls. They are usually talking about nothing, mostly gossip. The really funny part about this is that I have hear many of these conversations, and a lot of the guys just talk about how their women talk about nothing. Is it just me that thinks this is weird, but aren't they talking about nothing themselves. However, this is a side of men that most women aren't going to have a chance to see.

Tannen believes women live in a different world. She says, "Women approach the world as an individual in a network of connections. In this world, conversations are negotiations for closeness in which people try to seek and give confirmation and support, and to reach consensus. They try to protect themselves from others' attempts to push them away.Life, then, is a community, a struggle to preserve intimacy and avoid isolation. Though there are hierarchies in this world too, they are hierarchies more of friendship than of power and accomplishment.

In general, I think women have more friends and less stress than men. I wonder if what Tannen says has anything to do with this. All they want to do is be close to people. They want to get the chance to really know someone. It is funny to think that men are the so called "Tough" sex, but the women are the ones who aren't afraid to let open themselves out to people or ask someone for help when they can't do something or don't know something.

So is it possible that the men are the physically stronger sex and that the women are, perhaps, mentally stronger? So now you ask yourself, "Is it better to be the mentally stronger sex or the physically stronger sex?" Which sex can get more done? I think the answers to such questions are simple. Neither sex is actually the better sex. This is why men and women work well together in a pair.When a traditional couple comes together as a successful unit you get the best of both worlds. When men and women come together it is nothing less than interesting.

When with women, men seem to play the tough guy. Tannen talks about how when men get lost they never seem to ask for directions. We like to figure things out on our own. When we need to ask the assistance of others we feel weak. I see this in my own personal life.

Being that I am a college student, it is inevitable that I am not going to have any money until I get a real job.My boyfriend seems to think that a very easy way to solve this problem for now is to call my father and ask for some money. I know that if I asked him for some he would give it to me without any questions. What she doesn't understand is that I can't ask him such a favor.

I know that he is my Dad and I should be able to ask him for things. My whole problem is that I don't want him to know that I am struggling with such financial problems. I would feel weak and as though I was disappointing him if I had to ask him for this kind of help. I am 22 years old. When he was this age he was living on his own and want him to think that I am capable of taking care of myself. My boyfriend says it is silly, and I agree but that is the way I was brought up?don't show your weaknesses.

Women get so mad when we don't talk. I remember a funny story from the book that involved a man and a woman at the breakfast table. Apparently, this breakfast had been planned, and when they sat down to eat and spend time with each other he pulled the newspaper in front of his face.

He thought nothing of it. He was still spending time with her. She was upset because her idea of spending time together means holding a good conversation. Had she told him that she wanted to sit and talk over breakfast beforehand things may have been different. Many times the man thinks the woman talks too much and they are considered what Tannen likes to call, nags. They keep saying the same thing over and over again because they think the more a man hears something the more inclined he is to do that something.

This, however, is not the case at all because they don't' want to feel ordered around. Men like to feel their independence.I see this in my house. My mother will ask my step- father to do something over and over again.

The more he hears it the more aggravated he gets and the more he doesn't want to do it. Of course, the longer he takes to do it the more he has to hear my mom ask him to do it. It is a long repetitive cycle. More on the independence issue, Tanned tells a story about how a woman will not make her weekend plans without consulting with the husband first. On the other hand, the man does not want to feel that he must ask permission from his wife to go do something.

It is not the "manly" way of life. If the information got out that the wife wears the pants in that relationship he will never hear the end of it. I know many of my friends that are in relationships get teased if they don't do something with the guys because they are going out with their girl that night. It has been done to me, as well, and nobody likes to have to listen to it. My Final Thoughts Somehow, relationships with the opposite sex work.

They always have and they always will. I think the key to the whole thing is compromise. It isn't hard if you are willing to try, but without it you aren't going to have much.

Everything a man does will make sense to other men. Everything a woman does will make sense to other women. Where the problem lies, is that men don't always understand the woman and the women don't always understand the men. The problem is one of miscommunication. We either can't understand how the other communicates or we don't want to know how they communicate. I believe it is a combination of the two.

We were brought up to understand our own kind, and we don't really take the time to learn about anyone else. If we did take the time to learn about the opposite sex, life would be easier. We all want to have some sort of relationship with others so we may as well find the easiest way to go about it.

All I suggest doing is to make an effort to learn others peoples ways. It will help you get what you want, avoid confrontations, and help have healthy long lasting relationships.

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By: Lisa Vox

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