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Student Question

How might the differences in the communication behaviour of males and females within organisations be addressed?

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Deborah Tannen's work might be a good starting point.

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This is a fairly interesting question.  It operates from the fundamental premise that there is a different mode of communication that exists between men and women in the workplace.  This question itself might provoke some level of discussion.  I think that you might find an equal amount of people in suggesting that there is no differentiation between the genders in communicating in the workplace and a same number suggesting that the very essence of men and women in the workplace consist of differences between them.  I am not certain that this space is going to be enough to put the issue to rest.

I do think that the description that organizations might be able to ascribe to potential differences in communication based on gender might be circumvented by suggesting that all communication has to be rooted in specifics.   In this, I mean to suggest that business organizations might find themselves in challenging predicaments if they seek to place gender based differences in communication.  For businesses who are rooted in bottom line end results, this process of intricate dialogue can prove to be challenging.  Businesses might be able to account for differences in gender- driven communication by simply stating that there needs to be precision and adherence to clear expectations in communication regardless of gender.  For example, if a female superior asks a male subordinate for a project due on a specific day, she might ask it in a different way than a male superior might.  Yet, businesses can avoid many problematic avenues by simply asserting that all directives from superiors be articulated in a clear manner and that subordinates must adhere to such expectations, regardless of gender.  The issue of gender based differences in communication can be addressed in simply stressing that both genders engage in clear and decisive communication without a sense of challenge in terms of misreading what one gender might suggest in light of the other.

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