The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why

1302 words 6 pages
Managing Diversity Paper #3

The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why Deborah Tannen’s article essentially points out that men and women have different ways of communicating. Women’s conversational style is more towards developing rapport, providing support, or nurturing in such a way to show how they are attune to communication. This style is conducive towards promoting intimacy and the importance of relationships. On the other hand, men’s conversational style is more assertive, more indicative of independence and the maintenance of hierarchical relationships. This style is important in establishing and communicating the status of a person engaged in communication. Tannen’s views regarding these differences
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It is this relationship between American corporate culture and the idea that women’s learned conversation styles places them at a disadvantage in the workplace. Tannen provides concrete examples how women’s linguistic style works against them. Women are less likely to take full credit by their use of “we” when talking about some accomplishment. They are likely to “one up” a colleague, and downplay their certainty. Aside from cultural differences and individual personality, gender also plays a role in how likely women and men are to ask questions. For men, asking questions means being in a “one-down” position, and as such are less likely to ask questions because it reflects negatively on them. The fewer questions asked the less likely that any uncertainties could be seen as a weakness. On the other hand, for women, failure to ask questions is a double-edged sword. As Tannen illustrated in her example, any request for exchange for information involving women can become the basis for judgments or misjudgments about their competence. Not asking any questions can also be a reason to blame women for their failure—it is a no-win situation. Tannen also mention that women have difficulty in rituals of compliment and opposition. Men expect directness and honesty when getting feedback, and generally are less hesitant to promote themselves especially when being complimented. On the other


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