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Spencer Duckworth
Shirene McKay
April 9, 2016

Gender Conversation Styles

In this paper I will be going through two Genderlect styles of communication
between a man and a woman. Genderlect is a term used to describe the way that the
conversation of men and women are not right and wrong, superior and inferior -- they
are just different (Changing 1). I will be using examples of conversations between me
and my sister in order to illustrate the different communication styles.
Conversation Style #1
Laura Morrison reviews an interview of Deborah Tannen by Peggy Taylor, on
Tannens book You Just Dont Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.
Morrison quotes Tannen saying "For women, talking about troubles is the essence of
connection... Men, however, hear troubles talk as a request for advice" (Morrison 5).
Women often use communication in order to relate to one another and share their
problems, when men communicate about their problems to each other, they want a
solution to the problem, and not just someone to listen to them.
In conversations with my sister we will occasionally will talk about different
problems she has been having with boys. When this happens, I notice that she would
explain a situation of something that happened and then I would give advice on what to
do. Unlike Tannens theory where girls talk about problems just to rant my sister will
actual ask for and want advice on what to do with her problems. In most situations the
problems she brings up are about boys and wants to know what do, or would like the
perspective of a guy and what he might be thinking.
Communication Strategies
A strategy that I use when entering these conversations is listening to her and
how she sounds, if she is stressed or relaxed. There are times that I dont give advice
because she doesnt want it, she just wants someone to listen to her rant. Most of the
time I am able to tell by the tone in her voice, if it is frustrated or calm, or the look on her
face, tired or happy. Every situation is different and is hard to always know what she
wants, but miscommunications is part of life and we just continue on with it and do our
best to get over it.
The power between us is fairly equal because there are times where I will rant to
her about my problems. She understands my communication style and tends to give

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advice to me on what to do. When she tells me her problems, I understand that she is
using them to build our relationship and not to always receive advice. I would keep the
balance of power that we have because it works for us. She gets someone to listen and
I get advice.
Other Theory
I can relate and continue to improve my communication with my sister through
the Symbolic Interaction Theory. As explained in Introduction Communication Theory:
Analysis and Applications by Richard West and Lynn Turner, the Symbolic Interaction
Theory is a theory that is focused on the relationship between symbols and
interactions (77). Our communication will continue to improve and become stronger as
we use the same communication symbols and not change them up. If one of us was to
change how we communicated and the symbols, we used when doing it. Then we
would not have as good of conversations.
Conversation Style #2
Another style that me and my sister have involving communication is that of
Relationship Task. In the Relationship Task style of communication, girls will tend to
use communication to form relationships whereas guys will use communication to talk
about task of activities that they will do, as well as then use those activities to form their
Often when my sister and I talk, we just talk about life. We will share stories and
keep one another updated on what is happening in our lives we have a nice and strong
relationship just by talking. I dont feel the need to talk about going out and doing
something or even going to do something with her in order to feel more connected with
her. There are times where we will talk about activities, but that is because we are
talking about a date we are going to be going on or about a date that we recently went
Communication Strategies
I have noticed that our conversations are more towards the womens side of this
theory. Where the theory says that guys use conversation for activities, I find that I will
use it more to connect with other people, mainly women. Men I just go and do
something with and not sit and talk with them. Both of us are just fine with this type of
communication because it fits the womens side of this theory and I am more
comfortable talking to women in a way that they will feel appreciated.
The power, as I explained earlier, is more on the feminine side of the communication
which is that you use communication to form a relationship, but there are a few times
where we will use it to discuss a task or an activity. In a balance between men and
women styles of communication in our conversations, it is not balanced. But just
because it isnt balanced doesnt mean that it doesnt work. I would keep the balance
where it is and then our relationship will continue to be fine.

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In conclusion, I have learned while studying this theory that men and women use
conversation differently. But just because it is different doesnt mean that it is bad. We
all need to realize that men and women are different, so when we talk to one another
we might need to change how we talk. The more we understand how one another
communicates, the less misunderstandings there will be.
Works Cited
Changing Minds. "Genderlect." Genderlect. Changing Minds, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.
Morrison, Laura. "You Just Don't Understand by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D."
Communication Styles of Men and Women, Tannen. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr.
West, Richard and Lynn H. Turner. Introduction Communication Theory: Analysis and
Applications. 4th Ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2010.