According to Julia Baird, a contributing opinion writer for the NY TIMES, it’s a “guy thing.” But more specifically she says it’s a male manner of speaking ….”The manalogue takes many forms, but is characterized by the proffering of words not asked for, of views not solicited and of arguments unsought. It is underwritten by the doubtful assumptions that the audience will naturally be interested, and that this interest will not flag.”
And do women do the same thing? NO! Well, at least not very many, and not very often. And most women will report being interrupted more in conversation — whether in meetings or in social interactions. We (women) are also more likely to hesitate, to ponder, to hedge, to question ourselves as well as wonder about the interest level of the people we are talking to. So what’s going on here?
I’ve written and spoken about these differences for many years so here are a few possible interpretations….see what you think.
In my experience in business settings, men, at the beginning of meetings, “posture.” They take over the conversation to establish a pecking order, to carve out a position of power. And they are typically not really listening to others. Consequently I’ve advised many women I’ve consulted with to “give” the initial time over to men…don’t put any important ideas on the table first thing. Because what happens is one or two men will vaguely recall what you said and introduce the idea as their own later on…..in other words, give them the time they seem to need to “settle in” or to position themselves…then talk when you are more likely to have their full attention.
MEN have been socialized to believe that what they think and how they approach what ever issue is on the table is of dominant importance….they have been taught to take charge, solve problems, fix things, complete tasks. So they technically get a break for “doing what they were taught to do.”
WOMEN have been socialized to believe they are responsible for relationships and connections. Consequently our hesitation or hedging behaviors are pretty much related to how we check to see if we are connecting or NOT….We try to maintain eye contact, to see if the other person agrees or disagrees, to shift position to find points of agreement. We are far, far less likely to ramble on and on….as in a manalogue….because we constantly watch for reactions that indicate connection or DISCONNECTION. And most women are uneasy with the disconnect, the gap in the relationship, and will shift gears in some way to re-establish the connection.
I’m sharing BIG generalizations…to just keep the conversation going…and I want to “make sure I am connecting with you!” Seriously, these are significant issues and differences to dig into a bit. I talk about them in two of my books….WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH! and RELEASE FROM POWERLESSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE. And you can explore research in Deborah Tannen’s work YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND and CONVERSATIONAL STYLE.
These are significant issues in our socialization and “style” of interaction — and understanding what’s going on can help any of us to be and feel more effective in both work and personal settings. Differences CAN be navigated!
Listen to Mike Manco and Linda Moore discuss this content, on Mike’s podcast, at SteveAndMikeRadio.com.