Gender Communication Styles

When we are talking about gender communications is there a difference between both men and women? According to the text men use an instrumental style of communication. Instrumental style of communication for men is to focus on identifying

goals and finding a solution. Women communicate in an expressive style. The expressive style involves emotions and having a perspective that is sensitive to how others feel (Ashford, LeCroy, & Lortie, 2006).

Dr Deborah Tannen wrote the book You just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. Although gender differences do exist between men the difference is more sexual stereotyping (Ashford, et al.). Because of the differences in communication women are more than likely able to discuss intimate topics and confide in their personal lives than men do. Men seldom maintain an intimate conversation and are less likely to discuss their personal lives in the way that women do (Ashford, et al.).

Difference in Communication
When men communicate they communicate to report facts and in short phases with little or no details. Women, on the other hand, will communicate to build lots of rapport and a lot of details. First and foremost men want the “bottom line” followed up with more details since they have met their bottom line. This is the opposite for women as they will need to build up to the bottom line, as their enjoyment comes from telling a story (Burress, 2008).

The enjoyment of women telling the story leading up to the bottom line often becomes frustrating for men, which often lead into disagreements. In order for both men and women to communicate effectively, it is necessary to change the approach by women changing their bottom line first and men giving the women more details to fulfill the women’s needs (Burress, 2008). The communication gap between men and women goes far beyond the obvious. On average women use 25,500 words a day while men will only use 12,500 in a day. On average women will maintain eye contact while speaking for twelve seconds while men will only maintain eye contact for three seconds. If men were to change eye contact and words that women need to hear then one will find that there is less disagreements and hurt feelings will be minimal (Burress, 2008).

There are studies that indicate that women, more than men, are sensitive to interpersonal meanings that lie “between the lines” in the messages they exchange with their mates. The societal expectations of women make them more responsible for regulating intimacy or how close they allow others to come (Torppa, 2002).

Men on the other hand, than women, are more sensitive to “between the lines meanings” about their status. The societal expectations for men are that they must negotiate hierarchy, or who’s the captain or who’s the crew. These differences between interpersonal vs. status implications of messages will typically lead women to expect their relationship to be based on interdependence (mutual dependence) and cooperation (Torppa, 2002). Women will emphasize similarities between themselves and others, and make decisions that make everyone happy. Men, on the other hand, will more frequently emphasize themselves and others, but often make decisions based on their personal needs and desires (Torppa, 2002).

How are these differences seen in marriages between men and women? In ways that both men and women communicate! Women are more relationship specialist while men tend to be task specialist. Women are typically the “rapport talk” which refers to the types of communication that build, maintain, and strengthen relationships. Men are typically the experts in task accomplishment and addressing questions about facts. Rapport talk reflects the skills of being competitive, lacking sentimentally, analyzing, and focusing on task accomplishments (Torppa, 2002).

Conflicts in Relationships
People have conflicts in everyday life and a relationship with frequent conflicts will be a healthier one than one with no observable conflict. Conflicts happen at work, among friends, within families and between relationship partners. When a conflict happens within a relationship this can either weaken it or strengthen it (Bellafiore, 2007). Thus a conflict is a critical event in the course of a relationship. Conflicts can cause resentment, hostility, and even the ending of a relationship. If they are handled well then the conflict can be productive and lead one into a deeper understanding, mutual respect, and closeness. If the relationship is healthy or unhealthy this is dependent on how the conflicts are resolved between relationships (Bellafiore, 2007).

Sometimes people may shy away form a conflict, and their reason for this is numerous. People may feel that their underlying anger may go out of control if they start a conflict. Because of this people may see conflicts as an all-or-nothing situation. It will either end up where they avoid it all together or end up in a combative mode (Bellafiore, 2007). Another reason a person will find it difficult to face conflicts because they may feel inadequate in general or in a particular relationship. Some will have difficulty in positively asserting their views and feelings. For children who are surrounded by destructive conflict, when they become adults, they may never participate in a discord (Bellafiore, 2007).

People will adopt a number of ways to facing conflict. For one, it is very common to see a person avoid or deny the existence of a conflict. Usually in this case the conflict will linger in the background during interaction between the participants and creates a potential for further tension or conflict (Bellafiore, 2007). Another response style to conflict is that of one person getting mad and blaming the other person. This can occur when a person mistakenly equates conflict with their anger. If anger is used then all this will do is to increase the degree of friction between the two participants, and this will do nothing to resolve the conflict (Bellafiore, 2007).

A third way some people resolve conflict is by using power and influence to win at the other’s expense. They welcome the conflict because it allows their competitive impulses to emerge, but what they fail to understand that the conflict is not resolved and this will cause the “loser’ to harbor resentment (Bellafiore, 2007). Some people appear to compromise in resolving the conflict, but they subtly manipulate the other person, which in turn, perpetuates the conflict between both parties and will also compromise their trust between them (Bellafiore, 2007). There are better ways to handle interpersonal conflict.

In conclusion, no matter what communication style there is both men and women will communicate in different ways. Men will take the approach of instrumental communication style where they want the answer right away and establish their hierarchy. Women, on the other hand, will be more of an expressive style of communication as they will be able to confide to others and are more sensitive to issues than men and they will be able to build, maintain, and strengthen their relationship.
There are also different ways in which people try to avoid conflict. They will deny the existence of a conflict, or get mad and blame the other for the conflict. Then there are other people who will influence and use their power to win a conflict. The only way for relationships to endure a conflict is to keep it rational, without yelling, or both parties come to a compromise to end the conflict.

Ashford, J. B, LeCroy, G. W., & Lortie, K. L. (2006). Human behavior in the social: A multidimensional perspective (3rd, e.d.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Bellafiore, D. (2007). DBR Alternatives, Inc. Interpersonal conflict and effective communication. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from
Burress, L. (2008). Bridging the communications gap: Communication differences between men and women. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from
Torppa, C. B., Ph.D., (2002). Family life packet 2002. Gender issues: Communication differences in interpersonal relationships. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from