Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Communication style

Communication is just an interesting phenomenon.

Communication theory indicates that "male style" communication is generally more matter of fact, and people who are more emotionally based when it comes to communication find that difficult. I see this all the time. People get bent out of shape when someone is just direct. Of course, I like it when people are direct - I like to know where I stand.

Women tend to talk more in terms of "I think we should," or "I feel it would be best..." Men tend to talk more in terms of "I decided..." or "We are going to..." Of course, there are people of both genders who cross beyond those specifics.

I had to teach myself the more female style of communication because I grew up with lots of boys and men, and very strong willed women, and didn't develop that naturally. Once I entered the business world, I learned it was very difficult for people to accept a male style of communication out of a female - oddly enough it was never men who had an issue with it in my case, but other women. Men liked the fact that I could just say what I meant/wanted/needed. But the other women I worked with did not like it that I didn't use the "softer" way of communicating. It took me years to remind myself to say, "I think we should..." instead of just saying "I want this to be..."

I've learned to fake it enough to get by, but it is still not natural for me to talk in those ways. If you already know you want to print the project on green paper, I can't imagine why you want to spend 20 minutes talking about why you should print it on green paper, and soliciting other people's opinions about the green paper. I'd rather take thirty seconds to call the printer with the decision and spend the other 19 1/2 minutes doing something productive or relaxing.

I've noticed the same thing on discussion lists. There's a situation now on a list where a gentleman who is very polite, but very "no frills" in communicating, has been chastised by someone for his "terse" emails. He's not terse - he's just matter of fact. I feel for him so much because I've been told similar things just because I'm definitive. It gets old. Really old. And it makes you just not want to communicate with anyone who doesn't respect people who can just say what they mean.

It's probably why I've not been reading any of my former discussion list email for many months now.

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