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Rules of gender speech communities
Gender-based styles for verbal and non-verbal communication arise when both men and women use masculine or feminine language styles to communicate (Wood & Henry, 2002, p. 57). As a result, most men and some women will learn the masculine style of communication while most women and some men will learn the feminine style of communication, and thus, gender-based communication is not limited to sex. Accordingly, speech communities arise when a particular group of people shares common communication goals, understands the common goals, and interprets the goals using similar strategies. Therefore, a speech community can be based on gender, race-ethnicity, or economic class. Overall, males and females enter distinct speech communities through socialization (Wood, 2010, p. 46).
Conversely, studies show that the rules underlying the gendered communication styles are learnt during the early stages of life-span development particularly through games and play. Here, it is certain that boy’s games entail large competitive groups sharing specific goals, and they tend to be physical in most cases. On the other hand, girl’s games involve small groups lacking clear goals and guidelines, and they tend to talk more than acting. Moreover, girls tend to be more cooperative during games, and thus they create various relationships, which involve all parties in sensitive conversations. Subsequently, studies show that the basic rules of gendered communication learned by children are advanced and used during adulthood (Wood & Henry, 2002).
Here, researchers note that the rules governing feminine speech communities dictate that communication entails developing and sustaining intimate and close relationships between the speakers, and therefore, talk forms the basis of such relationships. As a result, feminine speakers use talk to equalize status, support others, invite others into the conversation, match experiences, invite self-disclosure, and respond to others. Moreover, feminine speech tends to be tentative, powerless, inclusive, and most speakers use a lot of tag questions, hedges, and qualifiers (Wood & Henry, 2002; Wood, 2010, p. 60). On the other hand, the basic rules underlying masculine speech communities indicate that communication is used to attain concrete goals, enhance the speaker’s status, exert control over others, and preserve independence or dominance. Therefore, men use talk to achieve instrumental goals, conversational command, authority, and to demonstrate less responsiveness to other parties. Here, it is notable that men will talk more frequently and directly, and thus they tend to be more abstract, interruptive, and less concrete (Wood & Henry, 2002).
Analysis of verbal communication between my friend and myself
It is certain that there are major differences in verbal communication between men and women basically because they employ different communication principles to communicate. I realized this notion when talking to my lady friend who wanted to know my take on this guy she met, and they exchanged numbers only for him to call her three weeks after they met. In this case, I realized the power of feminine speakers to draw other parties into a conversation because despite that I was not interested in listening to her story; she somehow managed to draw me into it. Furthermore, it is obvious that most female speakers divulge more specific details in their conversations (Wood, 2010). For instance, my lady friend explained to me the full details of their meeting before asking me whether it was normal for her new ‘boyfriend’ to act the way he did. As a male speaker, it is normal that my interest was centered on the more general details such as just asking for my advice instead of taking me through the whole story. Therefore, I found myself interrupting her severally in order to perceive the story in a more general manner by asking questions such as, ‘What did he say to you when you departed?’ and ‘What was his excuse this time?’ It then follows that most male speakers tend to interrupt other parties to achieve some sort of authority and command during the conversation (wood & Henry, 2002).
Additionally, it is a fact that most feminine speakers are fond of using verbal cues, hedges, and qualifiers when conversing. Here, it is worth noting that phrases such as “Oh”, “Well”, “Yeah, right”, and “Uh-huh” were very common in our conversation especially with my lady friend. Moreover, to demonstrate her agreement with whatever I was saying, my friend would constantly nod her head, something I rarely do as a man. In fact, research shows that most women use verbal cues, tag questions, and qualifiers in order to show their submissiveness and soften messages during conversations especially in the presence of men. Therefore, questions such as “Do you really think so?” are very common with feminine speakers when conversing with friends (Wood & Henry, 2002; Kelley, 2011).
Overall, the foregoing analysis and discussions show that both men and women possess different ways of expressing themselves in a conversation. Furthermore, the two parties have different reasons for expressing themselves the way they do. As a result, there is the need for both men and women to identify their communication styles, understand the communication styles of other speakers, adjust to different conversational styles relative to the context, and avoid criticism of other people’s conversational styles in order to make good public and private speakers (Kelley, 2011).
Kelley, R.H. (2011). Communication between men and women in the context of the Christian community. USA: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Wood, J.T. & Henry, A. (2002). Everyday encounters: An introduction to interpersonal communication (4th ed.). Canada: Nelson Thomson Learning Publishers.
Wood, J.T. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters (6th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning Center.