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“Masculine” or “Feminine” Talk?

Diversity

I am teaching an online course for Hesser College on Managing the Diversified Workplace. The book we are using, Opportunities and Challenges of Workplace Diversity, 2nd Edition, Canas & Sondak (Prentice Hall, 2011) discusses two types of speaking styles: Masculine and Feminine.

The masculine speaking style focuses on accomplishing goals: being assertive, establishing status and power, solve problems for others, talk to convey information or accomplish goals (not just to have a conversation.) On the other end of the spectrum is the feminine speaking style. Here the focus is on building relationships and collaborating: disclose about self through communication, show understanding and empathy, interested in other’s ideas, talk to build rapport with others.

While these styles may be labeled to give the impress that men lean toward “masculine speaking” and women toward “feminine speaking; I can’t state that is what I frequently see. Yes, certainly, we can state that men tend to be more assertive than women overall and women tend to be more focused on building relationships and developing rapport with others. But undoubtedly you know of a man who may lean more toward “feminine speak” and a woman who utilizes more “masculine speak.” To be most effective in an organization – regardless of your role – you must be able to utilize characteristics of both styles. For example, if I am working with a new team, I want to spend time building relationships and rapport with the team members (feminine style). However, if I am trying to sell my ideas up to an executive, I may be more “masculine” in my approach – being more assertive to convey confidence and expertise.

Bottom line – we need to have a balance of the two. When do you take a masculine style in your conversations and when are you more feminine in your style?