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Have you ever sat back and observed a male and a female interacting with one another? I’m sure you have seen it but never really observed it. Men and women are very unique especially when referring to their style of communicating. Communication plays a very important role in our day to day lives. It helps us to express our thoughts, our feelings, and to exchange information. Debrah Tannen the author of “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” states that women and men communicate differently. Based on my personal experiences I have been able to discover some differences and styles that male and females apply when interacting based on gender, influences of social structure, and the impact of culture.
Many people may not be aware but there are different styles of communicating between two genders. I can remember when I was going through my prior relationship breakups, where I found myself as the all relationship-oriented person. I saw commonalities and connected with other women who were in relationships and how they expressed themselves while dealing with challenges of being in one. Whereas, my ex-boyfriends tended to relate to the relationship and its challenges by being distant and dismissive at times. To me it felt like that status of dominance was more important to them than being expressive. Another thing I noticed was If I had a disagreement with one of my girlfriends it affected all aspects of our friendship. On the other hand whenever I find myself in disagreement with a guy they usually move on to another subject and try to find something else to distract the matter. One of the most interesting styles of communication was the way other woman or myself communicated with non-verbal’s. I noticed during conversations I would use a lot of eye contact, facial expression and body language when expressing my myself. On the other hand, I didn’t notice any of that as much when it came to the men I talked to or observed. They would just nod their heads when they agreed to something I said. During moments there wasn’t any nonverbal cues, I would just assume the guy would be spaced out or not listening all together.
Let’s now take a look at society and its views on how men or women should behave when expressing themselves. It has shaped the way of what normal and acceptable communication looks like. In my early childhood years as far back as I can remember, I noticed that whenever a girl would cry or express herself, she would be consoled and asked what’s the problem. Contrast that to whenever a boy would cry or express himself, he would be made fun of or told to suck it up therefore strength was promoted as the emotion to be demonstrated. I can also remember reading and doing an assignment about the influence of society and its historical treatment of women and their viewpoints where expressionism was once limited. I learned that men have always had a choice and a place to voice their concerns surrounding any topic without being held to the same standard of women. Another thing that I found interesting was the structure of communicating in society when it came to dating or showing affection towards gender of interest. When it comes to this, I notice how other women, including myself communicate when it comes to flirting or courting based on society’s norms. When I first meet a guy that I am interested in, I always make an effort to connect and bond while subconsciously watching what I say and how I give subtle eye-contact in order to get the guys attention. However, when it comes to men, I noticed they always behave differently, intimidated and never really making the attempt or effort to make eye contact when they were interested in talking to me.
Next thing I will touch on is how culture can have an impact on styles of communicating. Born from another culture, my Dominican background impacted my communication-expression style and how I approach certain situations. For instance, I felt that the women are broken into two groups of very expressive and non-expressive types. This was due to socio-economic situation that led to them having to grow up too fast and at times not having a support system therefore they sought after it by standing out and being expressive. As for the men, you can say the same thing was the case. I was always taught that our culture provided both men and women the knowledge on how to behave in certain situations and how to interpret other behaviors and how to interact. As a Dominican, small talk is encouraged, so as a woman I would always find myself having friendly conversations with anyone and wouldn’t get discouraged to do so because eye contact was always made. This same thing applies for the men of my culture not excluding married and single.
The purpose of Tannen’s essay is to show that we use different communication styles and patterns while having our everyday conversation. Even if we don’t realize it, a person’s gender, their social structure, and the cultural background that they come from are all a part of it in one way or the other. Referencing back to Debrah Tannen’s essay when she states that women communicate verbally and men nonverbally I would have to say I agree to some of her main points but not all due to the fact that her essay is based on a stereotype in the U.S. that does not apply to all men and women throughout different cultures. Debrah mentions that men don’t know what kind of talk women want and that they don’t miss it when it’s not there, but I say this does not apply to all because in my culture, men are the ones who communicate the most. Every culture and opinion is very unique like the communication styles explained.
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