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In a 3–4-page report, explain current research on male and female communication styles. Specifically, differentiate between male and female communication styles and leadership behaviors. Respond to the following:

· What impact does this have on workplace communication and interaction?

· Do our communication styles differ depending on our personal and professional environments?

· Do your personal workplace experiences either align or contradict the research outcomes? Discuss.

The Assessment 1 Context document explores the subject of male and female communication styles in greater depth. You may wish to review the document for key concepts and ideas related to the following topics:

· Communication Differences.

· Workplace Differences.

· Strategies for Better Communication.

· Do Gender Differences Really Matter?

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Many believe this is never truer than when communicating with someone of the opposite sex. Our ideas about gender differences in communication styles are frequently shaped by circumstance. They are constantly evolving. While it is good to be aware of gender communication differences, you must go beyond assumptions and decide how to respond and interact based on actual behavior.

Communication Differences

Much of the research on gender differences, as they relate to leadership roles, is fairly new. This research was initially driven by the low number of females holding significant leadership roles in corporations, politics, and government. While women have made great strides in recent years, they are still underrepresented at the higher levels of these organizations (Richmond & McCroskey, 2000). Research has found significant differences in the ways men and women communicate, as well as how they lead others (Muir, 2007). Often, these differences account for many misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. In the bulleted lists below, you will find examples of gendered communication differences (Note: Researchers often group male and female communication styles into speech communities.):

Female Speech Communities

· Use communication as a tool to establish and maintain relationships.

· Think in “webs,” seeing more connections among individuals and roles, as well as the impact a given communication may have on these connections.

· Establish equality and symmetry by sharing experiences.

· Invite others to speak, using more “agreement cues” to indicate value and caring.

· Pay more attention to relationship than content level in conversation.

· Engage in more “maintenance work” to sustain conversation (Lieberman, n.d.).

Male Speech Communities

· Talk to establish status and indicate knowledge and control.

· Tend to be direct and assertive.

· Tend to avoid personal disclosures, especially if it suggests vulnerability or weakness.

· Tend to be less emotionally responsive, often more abstract (versus personal).

· Interpret smiling as an “emotional” response.

· Self-identify as instrumental problem solvers, discovering facts and suggesting solutions.

· Use minimal response cues even if engaged (Lieberman, n.d.).

Workplace Differences

Specific differences in how men and women lead others are also present in the workplace. These differences can often be categorized in four ways: thinking, processing, leading, and speaking (McManus, 1999).

Thinking

Women are often more relationship oriented, while men are more task oriented. For example, women enjoy connecting to others when working, while men are more connected to the task at hand.

Deciding and Processing Information

· Women like to “talk things out,” while men process things internally.

· Women tend to work in groups and ask for help, while men work independently.

Leading

Women often take the “majority rules” approach, while men only consult those closest to them.

Speaking

· Communication style—verbal and nonverbal behaviors are important.

· Men tend to be more assertive and take up more time and space.

· Men often talk more than women.

Strategies for Better Communication

Now that we understand the differences between male and female communication styles, it is important to understand how we can bridge the gap between these gender roles in the hope of facilitating effective communication. Below are four strategies we can use to encourage better communications, regardless of gender:

1. Avoid stereotyping! Some men may communicate using a feminine style, while some women may use a more masculine style. Be aware that biases do exist.

2. Be open to breaking the cycle. Multiple leadership styles can be effective.

3. Work together and embrace differences.

4. Approach different people differently. Stay informed and be a chameleon. Learn more about male and female styles of communication and how to use both.

Do Gender Differences Really Matter?

The purpose of examining gender and communications is not to decide which communicative style is superior. Nor is it to motivate people to change their style. Rather, the purpose of this examination is to identify differences with a goal of understanding how best to communicate. Those around us shape our environment, so we must learn to overcome our differences if we want to work together effectively.

We should also recognize that some men and women have almost none of the traits attributed to their respective gender. So it is important to recognize that people are unique and do not fit into a mold. To ensure effective and functional communication takes place, we must learn to understand and respect one another regardless of gender. Our goal should always be to focus on the individual with whom we are working and not the categories that might define him or her.

Resources

Eagley, A. H. (2013). Harvard business school faculty and research – gender and work. Retrieved from http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/conferences/2013-w50-research-symposium/Documents/eagly.pdf

McManus, B. (1999). Gender and communication. Retrieved from http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/gendercom.html

Muir, C. (2007). Communicating diversity at work. Business Communication Quarterly, 70(1), 80–82.

Lieberman, S. (n.d.). Differences in male and female communication styles. Retrieved from http://www.simmalieberman.com/articles/maleandfemale.html

Richmond, V., & McCroskey. (2000). Nonverbal behavior in interpersonal relation. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

For the following questions, you may want to refer to the Resources for links to the resources by Lieberman and by Ivanov and Werner:

· How would you describe male and female communication styles?

· What impact do male and female communication styles have on the workplace?

· Do all males have the same sex chromosomes?

· How does this relate to our communication style?

References

Ivanov, M., & Werner, P. D. (2010). Behavioral communication: Individual differences in communication style. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 19–23.

Lieberman, S. (n.d.). Differences in male and female communication styles. Retrieved from http://www.simmalieberman.com/articles/maleandfemale.html


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