View Full Version : Gender and Communication

02-26-2007, 09:37 AM
As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatAllah,

I was reading my sisters' Communications book and after reading this passage, I couldn't help but say out loud.. "SubhanAllah"

See if we can draw gems from Love Notes/Fiqh of Love based on the studies done.


S. A. Beebe and J. T. Masterson, “Gender and Communication,” Communicating in Small Groups: Principles and Practices¸ 8th Ed. (Boston: Pearson 2006): 105.

Gender and Communication

Deborah Tannen’s best-selling book You Just Don’t Understand struck a responsive chord by identifying gender differences in verbal communication. Her work popularized a research conclusion that most of us already know: Men and women have different communication patterns. Evidence indicates that men and women sometimes use language differently and that they also interpret nonverbal behavior differently. Clara Mayo and Nancy Henley[1] (http://#_ftn1) as well as Diana Ivy and Phil Backlund[2] (http://#_ftn2) are among the scholars who provide excellent comparisons of how males and females use and respond to nonverbal cues. Note some of the following conclusions about gender differences in sending and receiving nonverbal messages:

People of both sexes tend to move closer to women than to men.[3] (http://#_ftn3)

Women tend to move closer to others than mend do.[4] (http://#_ftn4)

Men tend to have less eye contact with others than women do.[5] (http://#_ftn5)

Women seem to use more expressive facial expressions than mend do.[6] (http://#_ftn6)

Men tend to use more gestures than women do.[7] (http://#_ftn7)

Men initiate touch more often than women do.[8] (http://#_ftn8)

Women speak with less volume than men do.[9] (http://#_ftn9)

Besides differing in their use of nonverbal behaviors, there is evidence that women tend to receive and interpret nonverbal messages more accurately. Why are there differences in the way males and females use and respond to nonverbal messages? Some theorize that the answer lies in physiological differences between men and women. But the leading explanation focuses on how men and women are socialized into society. Women typically are socialized to value interpersonal relationships to respond to others’ emotions, which are largely expressed nonverbally. Also, men typically have higher status in North American culture and in many other cultures throughout the world. And as we noted earlier, those of higher status are typically talked to more; receiving verbal information from others may lessen men’s need to interpret nonverbal messages.

The research conclusions reviewed here can help explain some of the differences in the way that men and women communicate in groups and teams. We emphasize, however, that these are research generalization; do not expect all men and all women to exhibit these differences. Contrary to the theme of the popular book by John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, men and women do not live on different planets. Therefore in your group deliberations, be cautious about always expecting to see these differences. But knowing that there can be gender differences in both verbal and nonverbal behavior may help you become both more flexible and tolerant when communicating with others in groups.
[1] (http://#_ftnref1) C. Mayo and N.Henley, Gender and Nonverbal Behavior (New York: Springer, 1981).

[2] (http://#_ftnref2) D.K. Ivy and P.Backlund, Exploring Gender Speak: Personal Effectiveness in Gender Communications, 2ed ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000).

[3] (http://#_ftnref3) G. Leventhal and M.Matturro, “Differential Effects of Spatial Crowding and Sex on Behavior,” Perceptual Motor Skills 50 (1980): 111-19.

[4] (http://#_ftnref4) R. Sommer, “Studies in Personal Space,” Sociometry 22 (1959): 247-60.

[5] (http://#_ftnref5) P. C. Ellsworth and L. M. Ludwig, “Visual Behavior in Social Interaction,” Journal of Communication 22 (1972): 375-403.

[6] (http://#_ftnref6) A. Mehrabian, Nonverbal Communication (Chicago: Aldine Atherton, 1972).

[7] (http://#_ftnref7) N. M. Henley, Body Politics: Power, Sex and Nonverbal Communication (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977)

[8] (http://#_ftnref8) Henley, Body Politics.

[9] (http://#_ftnref9) N. N. Markel, J. Long, and T. J. Saine, “Sex Effects in Conversational Interaction: Another Look at Male Dominance,” Human Communication Research 2 (1976): 35-64.WAllahu 'Alam