Gender Differences in Non- and Verbal Communication

Communication can be defined as the exchange or passage of messages from an individual to another with the aim of creating or influencing meanings assigned to certain events. Contrary to many people’s perception, communication is not a mono-faceted phenomenon. A study of its qualities shows that communication is a dynamic process. For instance, communication is multifunctional. It depends on both the sender and receiver to be successful.

In addition, communication has both content and relationship dimensions. There should be a relationship between a word or symbol and the meaning it signifies. Communication involves both verbal and non-verbal signs and symbols. While verbally communicating, the overall meaning is passed across through other non-verbal signs and symbols like body language and voice intonations. Finally, communication is influenced by gender. There is a clear distinction between male and female communication. This involves the use of verbal cues in addition to body language.

Language is an important part of communication. Through language, one is able to perceive an event. For example, the urgency within the language of the speaker can make the listener know the seriousness of the situation in question. In addition, we are able to offer our perspectives on issues through language. Expressing acceptance through nodding of our heads is an example. Language also allows us to have a set impression of others. On the other hand, language determines how other people behave towards us. Our language can make people respect us or disrespect us. Finally, through language, one is able to determine a person’s gender position and perspective.

There are significant communication differences in relation to gender. First, unlike men who accentuate instrumental goals in their communication, women accentuate expression goals. In addition, men support hierarchical culture contrary to women who support informal structure. Furthermore, female communication tends towards collectiveness as opposed to individualistic male approach. Male communication assumes a competitive approach as opposed to female communication which is cooperative in nature.

The term ‘genderlect’ was created to reflect gender differences in communication. It involves factors like male using language for problem solving while females use it for supportive functions, focus on content and focus on relationship for male and female respectively and high responsiveness for female and low for men.

Given the relationship nature for women and content for men, there arises differences in vocabulary and grammatical constructions i.e women use more colorful words, expletives, polite forms, tag questions et cetera. They also employ more humor as compared to men.

Other than verbal communication, there are also non-verbal communication differences. Non-verbal communication, as part of the whole process of communication, is dependent on culture and context. It communicates meaning and is multifunctional in terms of signifying gender, regulation of interaction, giving meaning to verbal forms, reflecting one’s personality, etc. men and women differ in kinesics (posture, eye behavior, facial expression et cetera). In addition, women tend to be more sensitive on proxemics and haptics as compared to men. In terms of physical appearance, women are more sensitive as compare to their male counterparts. Finally women are more skillful in sending and receiving messages than men.