Every month, I analyze traffic and patterns on the Talk About Talk website. One of the measures I look at is what topics people type into the search function. One of the most common topics is always:

“gender differences”

image by GlobalStock via Canva - a man and woman in business attire leaning over a table, staring at each other - gender differences in communication - Talk About Talk

Questions about gender differences also come up frequently in my coaching sessions and workshops. And I’ve certainly noticed a few patterns in terms of how men and women communicate!

This topic of gender differences in communication is not something that I studied in school. So I decided to sit down and scour the academic research. You can hear what I learned in this week’s Talk About Talk podcast episode 141

Let’s see what the research has to say!

3 things to Talk About this week:

1. Who’s really doing all the talking? (This is still my #1 LinkedIn Post of all time)
2. Communication Mindsets
3. Recommended Reading: You Just Don’t Understand

Before we get into this, a reminder that although there are innate physiological differences between men and women, gender is learned, and is shaped by socialization and culture. 


1️⃣ Who’s really doing all the talking?

Do you remember back in 2021 when Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee was asked why there were so few women on the committee?

His on-the-record response was astonishing.

He said: “Board of director’s meetings with many women take a lot of time. When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying.”

He used 38 words.  My response was 3 words:

“Do the research.”
Andrea Wojnicki LinkedIn post - gender differences in communication - Talk About Talk

This is STILL my #1 most viewed post on LinkedIn!

As you’ll hear me explain in the latest Talk About Talk episode, while there is a common perception that women talk more than men, research indicates that there is little difference, and if anything, it might be the opposite!

I wonder if Yoshiro Mori (and many of us) believes women talk more, simply because he values what men say more than what women say?

There is, however, one notable exception to these findings. It turns out that female physicians spend on average two minutes longer speaking to their patients. (Hmm…)


2️⃣ Communication Mindsets

What are we thinking about when we communicate?  What are our goals? And does this differ for women versus men?

According to multiple sources, women tend to use communication as a tool to enhance social connections and build relationships, while men use communication to command dominance, power, and achieve tangible outcomes.

Andrea Wojnicki quote - "The research on gender differences in communication objectives is quite definitive. While men are more focused on information sharing and being direct, women are more focused on relationships and emotions. As such, there are many differences in how men and women perceive work relationships. As my friend Mary wisely notes, 'Men are friendly. Women are friends.' Thoughts?" - gender differences in communication - Talk About Talk

Let’s Talk About this in a couple of different contexts:

NEGOTIATIONS & CONFLICT

  • Women may approach resolution by seeking compromise and emphasizing collaboration.
  • Women often prioritize maintaining relationships and may use indirect language to express disagreement.
  • Men are usually more direct.
  • Men tend to focus on finding solutions quickly.

WORK RELATIONSHIPS

  • There are differences in how men and women tend to perceive the benefits of work friendships.
  • Men often focus on work relationships as a means to get the job done, and engage in “report talk.”
  • Women view work relationships as integral to job satisfaction, and engage in “rapport talk.”
  • As my friend Mary says, “Men are friendly, women are friends.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every man and woman communicates this way. But it does mean that there are some clear differences, and that there are things we can all learn from one another to become more effective, well-rounded communicators.

This is also another argument in favour of diversity, isn’t it?


3️⃣ Recommended Reading: You Just Don’t Understand

Have you ever had a conversation with someone of a different gender, only to find out that you both had completely different impressions of what was said?

book cover - You Just Don't Understand by Deborah Tannen - gender differences in communication - Talk About Talk

Though it’s now 15 years old, Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation is a classic for a reason, and remains one of the foremost guides to understanding gender differences in communication. 

If you’re looking for a resource to help you understand why men and women communicate and interpret things differently, this is a great place to start.


There you go – 3 things to Talk About this week:

1️⃣ Who’s really doing all the talking?
2️⃣ Communication Mindsets
3️⃣ Recommended Reading: You Just Don’t Understand

Learn more about this fascinating topic by listening to this week’s Talk About Talk podcast ep.141 on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Any feedback or topic suggestions for the podcast or this newsletter? Bring it on! Please email me or message me on LinkedIn. Thank you!

Have a great week
Talk soon,

 

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