The reason men and women communicate differently is because they communicate for completely different reasons. Men typically communicate to, “transmit information and solve specific problems.” Women ordinarily use communication to, “express feelings and achieve emotional intimacy,” (Gray, 1992). Women tend to rely more so on nonverbal communication to get the point across than men, due to the emphasis on feelings and emotions. Men are cut and dry, and tend to get straight to the point using less facial ques, and more emphasis on body movement.
Men. Boys as children are encouraged to play with toys like trucks or guns and swords. Boys are also pressured to be active in physical sports like football or basketball. These gender stereotypes influence men to be more aggressive and competitive. Men are taught from such a young age to express dominance through physical activities and intense actions. This reflects heavily in the way that men communicate.
Women. Girls tend to be more reserved, using less words to make more requests. Girls are trained to create harmony and to not create conflict with others, especially boys. Girls are shown to be sensitive and delicate, using physical contact to express their feelings to others (Carter, 2017). Women tend to use physical touch to relate to one another, rather than using elaborate words or conversations.
Gestures and Mannerisms
Men. Men are blunt and obvious when it comes to nonverbal communication. They rely heavily on body expressions rather than facial expressions. Men like to assert their dominance with their nonverbal ques. They will approach you head on, affirming their supremacy, using their arms and hands to elaborate on their lack of words. Men will use their hands to express their underlying opinions about whatever it is they are discussing. When men speak, they focus on status and independence. They want a conversation rather than a shoulder to cry on. They do not want to seem weak or discouraged (Tannen, 1990).
Women. Women are on the complete opposite of the spectrum. When women communicate, they tend to keep their body calm, with less movements than men. Women make up for the lack of gestures with the abundance of facial expressions. Women speak with every part of their face. Their mouth may do the speaking, but their eyes, eyebrows, and lips will do the majority of the communication. Women will keep constant eye contact in conversations, this comes from women wanting to establish an emotional connection. Women use their nonverbal communication skills to focus on intimacy or intensity (Chakrabarty, 2016). Women’s eyes can sympathize with or patronize you with just a slight lift of the eyebrow. Women rely on subtle verbal communication, compared to men who tend to be more obvious with their mannerisms.
Surprised? It should come as no shock to understand the differences between men and women’s nonverbal communication skills. Men like to be in charge and express their dominance in every situation. Men accomplish this through large and over-the-top body gestures. Women prefer to create an intimate connection when communicating with others. This is evident when you examine the ways women communicate nonverbally. Women show their feelings through their facial expressions (Coates, 2004).
Men. When speaking with others, men need very little feedback. When men are finished speaking, that is the appropriate time to give a response. This can lead to confusion for women. If a woman is speaking, and the man is not giving her nonverbal communication that he understands, like nodding, the woman will interpret that the man is bored or does not understand what she is saying (Carter, 2017). She will then feel uncomfortable and repeat herself, or ask the man if he understands. This appears to the man as if the woman is not confident in what she is saying. Women rely on feedback, while men are straight forward with no lavishing needed.
Women. Women tend to nod to show that they are listening. This can confuse men giving them the impression that women understand or agree with what the man is saying. Men would be surprised to realize that a woman nodding her head would be puzzled or just straight up reject the man’s opinion. Women prefer face-to-face communication, allowing direct eye contact to be made. Men find this too personal or too aggressive. Men prefer side-to-side communication which reflects agreeance common ground. Women see it as men not wanting to be upfront or as they are hiding something (Carter, 2017).
Men are more expressive and tend to use hand gestures and body movements to communicate. These mannerisms come from boys being raised to be physical and dominant. Women use more subtle ques, such as facial expressions to relay their feelings or emotions towards what they are discussing. These mannerisms come from girls being raised to be delicate and fragile. Men are encouraged to be direct and dominant when communicating with others. Women are encouraged to be indirect and understated when speaking to others. Nonverbal communication is different for women and men, and can be linked to gender stereotypes enforced on boys and girls as they are raised.
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