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The Power Of Talk: Who Gets Heard And Why

1334 words - 6 pages

Managing Diversity Paper #3

The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why
Deborah Tannen’s article essentially points out that men and women have different ways of communicating. Women’s conversational style is more towards developing rapport, providing support, or nurturing in such a way to show how they are attune to communication. This style is conducive towards promoting intimacy and the importance of relationships. On the other hand, men’s conversational style is more assertive, more indicative of independence and the maintenance of hierarchical relationships. This style is important in establishing and communicating the status of a person engaged in communication. ...view middle of the document...

While the distinctive processing of information is not necessarily because one gender is better than the other, miscommunication arises because one gender automatically assumes that the other gender is thinking and acting the same way. Because neither is right or wrong, she opines that both gender should stop judging or trying to change each other in terms of the style of communication. Rather, she proposes that each should accept the differences and use them to maximize mutual cooperation. As Tannen illustrated, women’s nurturing, indirect, respectful, and rapport building style should be embraced and used to complement men’s direct, factual, and honest style of communication (1995).
In my own experience, during our weekly departmental meeting, our female human resources (HR) manager illustrates these traits that Tannen, Braedyn-Svecz, and Glaser are referring to. Her style ensures that everyone in our department gets a chance for their ideas to be heard and their opinions considered. However, I noticed that the easy-going moods during her meetings are in stark contrast when the vice president (VP) of our HR (a former Marine colonel) is present. This was probably because our VP was blunt, direct, and forceful. There was less feedback or flow of ideas whenever he was present. Moreover, during these meetings, it was readily apparent that my male colleagues were more willing to brag about how they resolved a difficult issue between management and the union. My female colleagues were apt to preface an excellent idea by saying something like, “Maybe if we try it this way we can make it easier…” Any other male colleague would have taken the credit for the idea himself.
It is this relationship between American corporate culture and the idea that women’s learned conversation styles places them at a disadvantage in the workplace. Tannen provides concrete examples how women’s linguistic style works against them. Women are less likely to take full credit by their use of “we” when talking about some accomplishment. They are likely to “one up” a colleague, and downplay their certainty. Aside from cultural differences and individual personality, gender also plays a role in how likely women and men are to ask questions. For men, asking questions means being in a “one-down” position, and as such are less likely to ask questions because it reflects negatively on them. The fewer questions asked the less likely that any uncertainties could be seen as a weakness. On the other hand, for women, failure to ask questions is a double-edged sword. As Tannen illustrated in her example, any request for exchange for information involving women can become the basis for judgments or misjudgments about their competence. Not asking any questions can also be a reason to blame women for their failure—it is a no-win situation. Tannen also mention that women have difficulty in rituals of compliment and opposition. Men expect directness and honesty when...

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