Communication Matters II – Gender – Women and Men Talking

Today I decided to pick out a lecture related to communication, but this lecture series on communication has a twist, it seems more psychological. I listened to lecture number 9 out of the course “Communication Matters II: That’s Not What I Meant!” by Professor Deborah Tannen.


Professor Deborah Tannen

Here she concentrates on describing the differences between how men and women communicate, which can often led to clashes.

Prof Deborah raises several examples on how she on What kinds of differences between the ways that men and women use language in their daily lives..

First she looks at how boys and girls communicate when they are with their best friends or when they are playing together. I found this part of the lecture very interesting.

She discusses how girls play when they are with their best friend. She notices that girls tend to choose smaller groups and tend to like to play inside or in close knit quarters. Girls often relate to their best friend by telling them secrets. Girls are very verbal and not other physical, they will sit with their best friend/friends and talk for a long while. Girls also tend to celebrate equality. They like to copy each other’s style.

With boys, this is almost reversed. When boys are with their best friend, they do things together rather than tell each other their secrets. They like to play in larger groups, status and hierarchy is celebrated so boys tend to boost about their abilities even if it seems ridiculous. Deborah also mentions boys celebrate differences e.g. what a particular boy is good at.

What Prof Deborah was interested in is how girls use repetition when it comes to communication and fitting in with friends. If one of the girls mentions that her friend has a bracelet, the other girl in that group would mention that her friend or relative has a bracelet in order to fit in.

I found this section of the course quite interesting.

The second part of this lecture moves on to how men and women often clash when it comes to communication. We hear women tend to engage in problem talk. This means women like to talk about their problems, as with men who tend to want to shut out or disengage from discussing something, especially if they are busy doing something else.


We are given several other examples of how women feel shut out of a conversation when communicating with their male partner. We are shown a good example of when a woman asks her partner how he would feel about having a drink. Obviously the partner replies “No”, but for some reason the woman feels angry and annoyed about this answer.


The clue is perhaps she wants to strike up a conversation about the drink, because women feel that it is easier to relate to someone if they engage in talk or problem talk, while men get the idea that when a woman wants to talk about something, she is looking for a solution. Still, it seems most of the time, this is not always the case.

I found this lecture easy to digest and not too much jargon or lingo. The way deborah speaks about communication issues began to make me panic, because I often see failings in myself when I am talking to the opposite sex. I can often see why my girlfriend gets angry with me, but I do often feel I struggle to respond to her talk and about opening up my feelings.

Check this course out when you get the time, maybe you might get to learn a lot about yourself.