Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Communication Styles: An Annotated Conversation
Adri prime
adriellyn

The conversation I'm about to annotate is close to one from a textbook example. The stereotypes here are in ‘masculine’ and ‘femenine’ communication styles. This directly relates to historical socialisation of boys and girls, and how they're taught to communicate, especially as regards confrontation (or the risks thereof and avoiding it). I know full well that not all men are of the “what he says” style presented here, nor are all women on the “what she says” side of things. If we all were, well, taking that to its (il)logical conclusion, we still wouldn't be communicating well enough to know how to annotate this conversation, now would we? There is, however, still more truth to this dichotomy of styles than is comfortable, and it's relevant to at least one situation in which I find myself. So, here we go.

What he says:
What are we going to do tonight?
What he means:
Let's get some ideas on the table about what we could do tonight, so we can figure out what we're going to do.
What she hears:
I'm going to be rudely confrontational and demand that you risk ridicule and rejection of your ideas by telling me what you want to do tonight without being able to come at it obliquely and delicately.

 

What she says:
I don't know... what do you want to do?
What she means:
I'm not comfortable with that, but I'm willing to open negotiations on the subject.
What he hears:
I have no preferences at all. Did you have anything in mind?

 

What he says:
Let's go out for <it doesn't matter what here>.
What he means:
Well, here's something I'd like to do, and since you didn't have any preference, unless you come up with one all of a sudden (and that's still allowed), since this is the only idea on the table, it's obviously what we'll do.
What she hears:
I demand that we do my thing.

 

What she says:

Well, I thought maybe we could <her alternative here>.

What she means:

Despite wanting to avoid any sort of confrontation, I had my heart so set on this other thing that I'm willing to bring it up despite what I heard you say just now.

What he hears:

I just had a weak preference/idea that maybe you hadn't considered, but it's okay if you had.

 

What he says:

Nah, let's go do <his original thing>.

What he means:

Your alternative doesn't appeal as much to me, and since you weren't too attached to it, you'll be fine with that, too.

What she hears:

I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU HAD YOUR HEART SET ON DOING, WE'RE GOING TO DO MY THING!



Yes, those final capitals do mean that she'll later be telling her friends that he yelled at her. By the differences on the rules of socialisation on which they were operating, from her perspective he did — even though he has no clue that he's dashed her hopes for the night at all.

I was socialised far too closely to the “she says” part of that. As such, I really don't deal at all well with the full-fledged “he says” style. On the other hand, I think something a little closer to that side of it than the middle would be much better for overall communication all around.

(The original source idea for this was an article on how these differences hold women back in business, by the way. It's somewhat dated on that, in that more women have learned to deal with the more direct style at work, at least. It's still relevant outside of work for far too many of us.)
Tags:

  • 1
That is *so* true! This is basically how blackoween and I "decide" nearly everything. Sometimes the roles are reversed, but in a general sense it rings true!

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account