Nonverbal communication entails the use body expressions, movements and gestures that signify a certain aspect. Nonverbal communication plays an important role in passing information from one person to another. For effective communication to take place, both parties should be able to decode the nonverbal cues involved.
We will write a custom Research Paper on The Differences in Nonverbal Communication between Men and Women in the Workplaces specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Therefore, one has to be well equipped with the necessary knowledge to enable him/her to identify a given nonverbal cue as well as understand the message attached to that particular gesture. Men and women have different facial expressions as well as different gestures as far as nonverbal communication is concerned. This paper explores the differences in nonverbal communication between men and women in the workplaces.
Nonverbal cues not only reveal ones emotions but also tend to reveal all the underlying motives of the person in question. In most cases, they reveal fear, joy, honesty, indecision as well as frustration among others. The simplest gestures like the way co-workers stand or enter a room usually speak volumes about aspects such as their confidence, self-worth and credibility (Bryon, 2007, p. 720).
Some behaviors also reveal people’s intent than they may realize. For instance, one unknowingly passes information by the way they sit, look and even stand among othes. Nonverbal communication occurs in a variety of ways such as eye movements, facial expressions and body postures.
Eye contact is a common nonverbal communication aspect. It is made through a series of glances by one party (the speaker) to ensure that the other party (listener) has understood or to gage reactions. The listener uses eye contact to indicate their interest in the speaker’s words or activity. However, men and women behave differently. Most men tend to look up at the end of utterances unlike women who will still retain their eye contact.
According to Espito, women use eye contact more than their male counterparts do especially as a sign of a lagging conversation (2007, p. 102). They do so by looking away to pay more attention to other people and objects within their vicinity. For instance, when a woman glances at her watch, gazes blankly into the distance, or visually scans the room, she is giving definite signals with her eyes that she has, in effect, stopped listening (Gorman, 2008, p. 44).
Most women tend to discuss work-related issues using a social gaze instead of a business gaze. A business gaze entails placing one’s eyes at the mid forehead of the listener. Usually, it is like an imaginary triangle with the eyes at the base and the apex at the mid forehead. When one keeps their gaze in that area, they nonverbally signal no-nonsense, businesslike approach.
When the imaginary triangle is inverted, one moves their focus from the eyes to the mouth-a social gaze. Men have proven to be good at the business gaze as opposed to their female counterparts in the work places. Gorman argues that women need to be aware that to be taken seriously in business interactions, a business gaze has the most impact (2008, p. 52).
When men stare at someone in a business setting, their sole intention is to challenge power or status, which is not the case with women. Women usually engage in more eye contact when holding a conversation. However, men do not make much eye contact. Another aspect that distinguishes the two genders as far as eye contact is concerned is that women are usually more likely to be interrupted when eye contact is not maintained with the other party compared to men.
Men and women differ in their pacifying behaviors that help them deal with their stress. Touching or rubbing one’s neck is one of the most significant and frequent pacifying responses to not only internal but also external stressors. Men may pull their collar as an indirect way to get more ‘breathing space’. They also express their stress by stroking themselves under the chin above the Adam’s apple as well as tugging at the fleshy part of their neck.
Research has shown that the fleshy part of the neck is rich with nerve endings that, when stroked, reduce blood pressure, lower the heart rate and calm the individual down. Women pacify by touching their necks differently than men do. They at times touch or twist the necklaces that they might be wearing. Additionally, they touch or cover the hollow area right below the Adam’s apple when they feel threatened, fearful or anxious.
Mostly, male executives tend to show their dominance in their area of expertise by using finger pointing which is less likely to be associated with the females. They usually use finger pointing in meetings, negotiations or interviews. Rather than being a sign of authority, aggressive finger pointing (with one or four fingers) suggests that the person is losing control of the situation.
The position of the legs is also an important signal as far as nonverbal communication is concerned. When men sit with their legs open, they signify an open dominant attitude. A crossed leg position for men usually signifies uncertainty. The opposite is true for women-crossed leg positions show an open dominant attitude in women. Sitting with legs apart in public forums is an especially masculine signal that indicates a high level of comfort and confidence.
The design of crossing ones legs is also a significant aspect in understanding the nonverbal cues of both men and women. Crossing legs at the knee with the toes relaxed is the usual option for women. On the other hand, most men usually stretch out their legs and cross them loosely at the ankles. Crossing one leg and resting it on the other thigh (so that one knee opens up) is a very masculine position that tales up a great deal of room and signals that the person in question is very sure of himself and of his place in the group.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
One’s walking style speaks volumes about their confidence. Men tend to land squarely on their heels and roll toward the balls of their feet. On the other hand, women catch their weight forward-‘off their heels’. Some women, in expression of their confidence, actually walk on the balls of their feet.
Another aspect that portrays ones confidence if the way they greet other people especially via a handshake. Men do not attach a lot of significance to the way they greet other people, thus it might not mean much to the recipients. On the other hand, in women, a firm handshake is a sign of self-confidence. They make a good impression due to their confidence as well as assertiveness.
The amount of space required to feel comfortable in work relations (when holding conversations) varies with not only individuals but also with gender. Men who do not know each other well tend to keep a greater distance between them than women who have just met.
The difference in the interpersonal distance as determined by gender is even true in Web 2.0 virtual online worlds where many of the rules that govern personal space in the physical world can be found in the virtual world. Generally, women tend to approach others closer than men do. Additionally, they prefer side-by-side interactions whereas men prefer face-to-face conversations (Pathi, 2008, p. 110).
The amount of space given to an individual in the workplace signifies their status. Space usually indicates dominance and leadership. The higher the professional status an employee has, the more space he or she is commonly awarded. Gender differences cannot be identified in such a setting.
However, males and females behave differently when it comes to taking space during meetings. Less confident men tend to pull in as opposed to their less confident female counterparts. On the other hand, confident women tend to keep their materials on the desk in one neat pile whereas the men usually spread out their papers on the table. Both are taken as nonverbal expressions for their dominance as well as confidence.
While entering meetings with a high status, female employees have a greater composure than men do. Before entering the room where the meeting is being held, most male employees will often adjust their jacket, touch their hair or make other adjustments to how they look. However, some female employees show such a behavior.
Women prefer high levels of nonverbal communication than men. Men’s nonverbal behavior associated with dominance and power. Most of women’s facial and body motions signal friendliness and approachability. On the other hand, such motions indicate more reservation and control in men.
Research as shown that the reason why most women are receptionists is that they smile even when they are not happy. On the other hand, it is hard for men to display their emotions through smiling. Additionally, women use facial expressions a lot to not only send but also to receive messages. On the contrary, men do not use facial expressions as much.
Honesty is one of the core values of most organizations in the contemporary society. However, some employees may not always be honest. Nonverbal cues have been proved to be effective in detecting lies in such instances.
For instance, men engage more in foot/leg movement when telling a truth than their female counterparts do. Furthermore, facial expression/cues differ significantly. Males who are telling the truth are less likely to employ facial adaptors, as is the case with male liars. On the other hand, women are more likely to employ facial cues when telling the truth than men are.
In conclusion, there are many ways in which men and women differ as far as nonverbal communication is concerned. Some of the ways include the manner in which they cross or rather position their legs while seated, their motives when they stare at someone as well as their ability to use their facial expressions.
Additionally, men tend to use space especially in business meetings to express their dominance as opposed to their female counterparts. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the role that body language plays in day-to-day business activities. Executives, salespeople and managers should not only make efforts in reading the clear signs of others but also have to understand their own nonverbal communication means.
Bryon, Kristin. (2007). Male and Female Managers’ Ability to ‘read’ Emotions:
Relationships with Supervisor’s Performance Ratings and Subordinates’ Satisfaction. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 80, 713-733.
Espito, A. (2007). Fundamentals of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and the Biometric Issue. Amsterdam, NLD: IOS Press.
Gorman, C.K. (2008). Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of the Body Language at Work. Williston, VT: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Pathi, S. (2008). Modern Business Communication. Mumbai: Himalaya Publishing House.