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Gender Differences in Working and Communicating with Others

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Gender Differences in Working and Communicating with Others
In organizations there are numerous factors that outline the foundation for a strong, successful and smooth operating company. The key is having wonderful communication across the board, it can increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and help recognize an outstanding leader in an organization. Nonverbal, verbal, written, and any means by which getting one’s point across to another can be categorized as communication. Communicating can be taken for granted since we all do this every day, however, it is important we have the skills to know how to properly communicate with one another. Everyone communicates differently due to their education background, where they were raised, age and gender. The one, which I am going to focus on is gender and what impact that, has on communication. There are clear gender differences in how we communicate and this can even have an affect in the workplace, such as situations can arise where there are misunderstandings between men and women.
The way in which men and women communicate stem from the differences in the brain. One major structural difference is that “males generally have more activity in the mechanical centers of the brain, while women have more activity in centers of the brain dedicated to verbal communication and emotion” (Wikninews). In female brains the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that regulates communication within the brain is larger than the male’s. Another difference is “the male brain is characterized by systemizing tendencies and mechanistic thinking. Systemizing is the drive to analyze, explore, and construct a system” (Kanazawa). On the other hand, the female brain is characterized by empathizing tendencies. Women tend to empathize, identify with another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to them with an appropriate emotion rather than men. Men do tend to be more analytical in their answers and seem to explore more so then women. Men are not necessarily from Mars and women Venus, but these differences are apparent in communicating with the opposite gender.
In general, “men’s greater systemizing and mechanistic skills are the primary reasons why they are better than women at mathematics, physics, and engineering, because all of these fields deal with various rational systems” (Kanazawa). Studies have proven that when men are confronted with problems that deal with spatial orientation, such as, looking at a map or playing chess, a function that can be handled by both the left and right hemispheres, they tend to only use the right hemisphere. Thus there is not to many distracting messages intervening from the left hemisphere, which concentrates on language. This cerebral division of labor could also explain why there are so many more male architects and chess champions. Their brains may simply be more suitable to concentrate on solving problems involving spatial relations (Kanazawa). Women’s greater empathizing and mentalistic skills are the primary reasons why they are better at understanding different languages and they are better judges of character. This is not to say that women can’t do the job men do, this is just further proof there is some evidence in the stereotypes our cultures have with genders in specific professions.
Gender stereotypes are strong in our culture and even put preconceived notions in our minds of what profession we will be when we grow up. The differences in men and women’s brain do show men are better at mathematical jobs than women, however, it should not deter women from wanting to be engineers. Stereotypically, girls are soft spoken, gentle, caregivers, on the other hand, boys are outspoken, direct, and confident. These stereotypes are embedded in our minds from when we are little, even impacting our thoughts of which gender should occupy which profession. We look at specific jobs and correspond them with a certain gender. When children are growing up they often want to be a specific profession such as, girls may want to grow up to be a teacher or nurse, and boys want to be a firefighter or a police officer. Girls are taught that they must relate to others in order to survive, while boys are taught that they must compete with others to survive. Not only is it our brains that are different, but our upbringings and stereotypes of gender roles play an important role in how we communicate with each other.
The more in-depth you look at the topic gender differences in working and communicating with others, the more it gets you thinking not only of how co-workers communicate with each other but how the public communicates with a professional due to there sex. For example, one may unconsciously communicate with a woman police officer differently then would a man police officer, by possible righting off a woman officer of being to soft and passive to chase down a robber. Or if you have a female mechanic working on your car you might second-guess their knowledge and the accuracy of their work. These stereotypes are set in place but hopefully one can have an open mind and know that a women can do any job men do. Humor is another way we interact with our colleagues. Humor can be a positive force in workplaces when it build cohesion, reduces stress and increases communication. There is even evidence that humor when used properly increases productivity and creativity. On the other hand, humor can be a cause of humiliation, distress and repression in the workplace. The way in which humor in the workplace is used between men and women are also different. Women use humor to build solidarity, they are more about connecting with others. When addressing men, women should use a form of self-enhancing humor, which builds their self-esteem (Cruthirds & Romero). Women also find sexiest jobs more offensive, this could be because women usually are the brunt of sexual jokes. When men use humor it usually to impress or emphasize similarities with others. When addressing women, men should use affiliative humor, which enhances social interaction, such as, funny stories and inside jokes.
The way in which men and women nonverbal communicate is surprisingly quite different. Mehrabian, first drew attention to the importance of nonverbal communication with his conclusions that facial expression, body movement, and voice tone relay 93 percent of the message to the receiver. In nonverbal behavior women are often more skilled then men in reading nonverbal messages, mostly facial cues (Graham & Jennings). Women use more direct eye contact in conversation to create a relationship and connection while men usually take that as a direct challenge to their power or position. An interesting finding is that male bosses tend to touch female secretaries more often then vice versa, possible to show their power. Women tend to nod their head to show that they are listening, not necessarily that they agree with the person. Men leave the conversation thinking that a head nod means agreement and surprised when women didn't agree at all. “When a woman is speaking to a man and he does not say anything and stays in neutral body language to show that he is listening, a woman will interpret that as the man being bored or not understanding what she is saying” (Lieberman). This can convey to the woman they are not listening and make her uncomfortable and repeat what she is saying or ask the man each time if he understands what she is saying. The man then interprets that as insecurity, or talking too much and which then lead him to think she is not assertive or confident to be a leader. These are just examples of how due to our gender differences we can misunderstand our co-workers. “Women will also approach a man from the front while men often approach from the side at an angle, which is how each of them tends to stand or sit when talking to others. Men interpret the face to face as too personal, or aggressive and women will interpret the talking side to side as though he is not being up front or even hiding something from her” (Lieberman). These are all-important differences to remember when we are communicating with the opposite sex and why we might not always see eye to eye on things.
Public speaking is even perceived differently between the genders. Men are credited more with being trustworthy and confident. Women in the study even ranked masculine qualities higher then feminine. They attributed their success to luck rather then men who attributed it to their own will and skills that got them there. Women must work twice as hard to be perceived equal to men public speakers. “Henley and Thorne (1977) report that female speakers are superior to men in vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar, and less fidgety and better integrated than men” (Kenton). Male public speakers tend to be more physical animated, confident and less withdrawn then female speakers. An audience perceives men speakers of being more honest, giving the facts and justifying the conclusion more so than women who are reading the same speech.
Women in higher power who must give orders to their colleagues tend to differ in the style they do it then men. Studies have shown women tend to soften their demands and statements, whereas men tend to be more direct. Women use phrases as, “don’t you think,” following a presentation of an idea, rather then more direct sentences. In general, women ask more questions then men. Women ask questions to gather information sometimes on things they already know the answer to; men ask questions too simply to get the answer (Monster). Women are once again trying to cultivate the relationship by getting more feedback. This has the potential to be a misunderstanding between the genders they just need to be aware of each other’s differences in asking questions.
Differences in writing can be found between the genders, as well. These days we communicate just as often through e-mails as we do on the phone or in person. In e-mails women tend to address their colleagues rather than just getting to the message. Men stick to the facts and have more of a business feel to emails without even saying warm openings such as, Good morning John; rather they tend to just get to the message. This is another example of how women want to build a connection first before sounding to push or getting to the facts. “Interestingly, when men did start their message with the person's name or a greeting, this was more likely to be in a message to a group or to another male than to a woman” (Waldvogel). Women in general sound more polite in their e-mails. The way in which colleagues write e-mails is also affected by the organizational culture as a whole. The most quoted and comprehensive research on gender differences in writing in general is a study by Argamon, Koppel, Fine and Shimoni. In this study, Argamon analyzed a sample of 604 documents in British English. These documents included equal samples of writing from both men and women in fiction, non-fiction, natural science journals, social science, world affairs, commerce, etc. Argamon confirmed the popular perceptions about gender differences in writing, he concluded that men use more determiners such as, a, that, these and quantifiers, one, more, some. On the other hand, women used more pronouns. “Women’s writing style could be classified as more ‘involved’, meaning an interaction between the listener/speaker and reader/writer. Men’s writing style could be characterized as more ‘informational’, meaning references to concrete facts, such as place and time” (Argamon).
There are different methods and tips we can remember to help communication flow better between genders. Simma Lieberman Associates have some pointers for organizations on how to bridging the gender gap in communication. Just keep in mind these are generalizations of genders, not everyone adheres to these norms. These are cultural norms based on evidence from research that showed that a huge majority of men and women display some of these characteristics. “Some of these behaviors are based on acculturation and learning and some of them are based on how our brains work” (Lieberman). Men and women need to be aware of each other’s styles of communication both verbal and nonverbal, keep in mind everyone is different but especially the opposite sex, in order to avoid miscommunication and work better together. There will always be stereotypes, but be open to breaking past them in order to leverage each other’s strengths. There is always more then one way of doing something, be open to different styles of leadership. Men must try to be more aware of how much time and space they use in meetings or group interaction. They should try to make room for the contributions of women, since they have a harder time jumping in because they feel it is rude to interrupt. “When asked for a decision by a women or for your opinion if you are an internal processor, let her know you are in process of thinking about it so she knows she is heard” (Lieberman). Women should try to get comfortable in asserting more space for themselves. When dealing with men in decision making, try to stop yourself from processing out loud, they see this as a weakness. If you do process out loud, let the man know that this is a process you use for decision making and you are not asking him his opinion or what to do. The final tip is to get information. Learn about male and female styles of communication and be able to use both to reduce misunderstandings. You need both to deal with the complexity and diversity of situations in today's world both personally and professionally. The best way is to recognize these differences. Once you do that it will be easier to have open discussions in order to find similarities and use those differences to achieve greater goals together, which in turn will strengthen the organization as a whole.
Since we have established that men and women are different we can use each genders strengths to build a strong organization. Some strengths that are attributed to women are they bring harmony, serenity and creativity, as well as, teamwork and they are detail oriented. Men might not be as strong in those areas but they are stronger in, goal orientation, problem solving, and responsiveness to challenges. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses will in turn improve communications and build a stronger organization.
Individually we all have our own style of communicating with others in the workplace, but gender differences if misunderstood can lower productivity, creativity and created distress. Gender stereotypes can hinder our ideas and thoughts about how we even communicate with the opposite sex. At all times it is important to keep an open mind. Our brains are structured differently; women have a larger corpus callosum than men, the part of the brain that communicates within the brain. This could be the reason why women communicate and try to build a relationship first and are better than men in reading nonverbal cues. Women in general make more direct eye contact when speaking and like to talk problems out loud. Men are silent when listening not even giving a head nod, which women need to remind themselves that is just how they are. When using humor in the workplace you have to make sure you are using it appropriately and not offending anyone. Our genetics are different, hence our communication is different.

References
Argamon, Shlomo; Koppel, Moshe; Shimoni, Anat Rachel. Gender, Genre, and Writing Style in Formal Written Texts. Department of Computer Science Illinois Institute of Technology.
Cruthirds, Kevin; Romero, Eric. The Use of Humor in the Workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives. May 2006. Vol 20, Issue 2, p58-69. http://rocky.iona.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsh&AN=20591005&site=ehost-live Gerald; Jennings, Paul; Unruh, Jeanne. The Impact of Nonverbal Communication in Organizations: A Survey of Perceptions. Graham, The Journal of Business Communication, Winter91, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p45-62.
Kenton, Sherron. Speaker Credibility in Persuasive Business Communication: A Model Which Explains Gender Differences. The Emory Business School. Journal of Business Communication; Spring89. Vol 26. http://rocky.iona.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsh&AN=5777836&site=ehost-live Lieberman, Simma Associates. http://www.simmalieberman.com/articles/genderstrategies.html Waldvogel, Joan. Greeting and Closings in Workplace Email. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (2007). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue2/waldvogel.html http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Study_claims_to_show_difference_between_male_and_female_brains http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/male-brain-vs-female-brain-i-why-do-men-try-figure-out-th-0 http://web.ebscohost.com.rocky.iona.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&hid=15&sid=7318289d-f2e8-4959-86a1-79b9960f3bd7%40sessionmgr11…...

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...Communication Differences and Strategies Shirley Bryant SOC/333 August 27, 2012 Marvin Frohock Communication Differences and Strategies Communication skills are different among men and women in respect to, and because of, their various occupations and experiences. Women use terms that are more descriptive and take longer to get to the point, while men tend to start with the direct point and fill in as needed. There are also differences in how each gender interprets some phrases. This paper will discuss some of those differences, how these differences relate to miscommunication, and ways to deal effectively with these issues. The skills used by men for non-verbal communication relate to their impressions and ideas of importance. The more important a man thinks he is, the more his body language will speak out. He will stand up straighter, use a louder voice, and be more expansive with his hand gestures. Eye contact will be at a minimum when talking to a subordinate, unless he is making or stressing a point. In relaxed social situations a man will spread out physically, taking up more space than necessary and using more expansive gestures with his entire body, while eye contact is almost non-existent no matter who he is conversing with. For a male dealing with another male of higher ranking, the body language is more subdued, with greater eye contact from the subordinate to the superior. When a male is dealing with a female of higher rank, his body......

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