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While in a bus today, I sat beside a woman who had obviously been muttering to herself since the beginning of her journey. She was late to a proposed business meeting and was incensed by the increasing breaks of the commercial bus. She finally alighted before her bus station to get a taxi that would make her journey faster. As she did, the men in the vehicle sighed collectively. According to them, peace has descended into the vehicle at her departure. They just could not understand why she spent so much time talking and not in having an action plan. It made me think of many fights that I had personally been called to settle in the society. Sometimes, among friends, families those in a relationship, strangers and much more. Areas of conflict arise due to gender differences in communication styles of men and women. Communication between different genders seem very difficult and extremely need the patience to break the communication barriers. According to research, Men and women are genetically unsuited to communicate successfully to each other. They have different ways of speaking because of social construct, upbringing and well, hormones. Even being male or female leads to different conversational styles. Ever wonder when joining in on a group of men speaking, you suddenly would consider changing your position. All those ‘guys speak’ may put you off. This is called “Genderlect”. The term coined to define the language of the sexes. Genderlect similar to dialect is a variety of a language that is closely associated with the speaker’s sexual gender. According to Dennis Baron, a Professor of English and Linguistics, in his book Grammar and Gender states,
“That women’s speech differ from men’s is accepted in much the same way that the psychological differences between the sexes are accepted, and because language is perceived as an innate and essential part of our humanity, sex differences in language are treated as natural, genetic, only to be expected and frequently to be reinforced.’ (Baron 1986:55).

Why is it so important to understand this?

Most of our conversations would be more expressive and generate fewer conflicts if we acknowledge our various communication styles. The biggest difference between men and women and their style of communication boils down to the fact that men and women view the purpose of conversations differently. Women are most times expressive in their thoughts as they pay more attention to details rather than outcome. While men are more focused on the target, the deadline, they are not interested in the process of getting the job done but on discovering it is done. Even in various organizations, the lacuna in communication process would widen if steps are not taken to consciously understand and enlighten about the diversity.

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This article was first published on 29th August 2017


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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