Rachel Naomi Remen, M. D. , is a master storyteller and a great observer of life; Remen said, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. ” Communication, gender and culture influence one another in many ways (Wood, 2008). People communicate either verbally, or non-verbally. Verbal and non-verbal communication occurs simultaneously and work together, complementing or contradicting each other (Harris & Sherblom 2008).
This paper will focus on how people communicate, both verbal and non-verbal and the difference between the two types of communication. I’ll also discuss the challenges of communication between different genders and cultures. People communicate either verbally, or non-verbally. Verbal communication has three functions; task ordering, process orientation, and narrative, or to tell a story. Task ordering focus on either/or choices and creates an understanding about purposes and processes. Process orientation, which is how we say something.
Narrative is the last function of verbal communication, and this involves how we talk about something, and how we feel towards it. Narrative involves both myth and reality (Harris & Sherblom, 2008). Non-verbal communication is the process of communicating without using words. Some types of non-verbal communication include: Facial display, eye contact, paralanguage, silence, and body language (Harris & Sherblom, 2008). Facial display can tell a person a lot about how you are feeling, for instance, if you are interested in the conversation, or not. Your facial expression can also show if you are confused, angry, happy or sad.
When someone is smiling, we usually equate this with being happy. Eye contact is another form of non-verbal communication. In the United States, we are taught from an early age to always make eye contact. Eye contact usually helps people perceive you as honest. Paralanguage is how you say something. It can include the pitch of your voice, the speed at which you talk, or vocal quality. Body language is non-verbal communication through the way we move our physical body. The way a person sits, stands, and hand gestures can cause others to perceive something about them. Men and women communicate differently.
Men often state that they are misunderstood by women, and women constantly complain that men don’t listen, and will not open up to them. It is apparent that there is a challenge when it comes to communication between the genders. I believe that while men and women communicate differently, there is a positive aspect to both. Women are usually better communicators, and better at remembering lists and tasks. Women usually use about 20,000 words per day, while men use about 7,000 (Bohl, 2009). Women are good at picking up on how someone is feeling, just from facial expression or other non-verbal communication.
Men have a difficult time identifying feelings. According to (Bohl, 2009), men tend to have an advantage in their ability to reason. “Men are better able to separate emotion from reason in everyday tasks. Their brains actually “switch back and forth” from one mode to the other, while women seem to blend both logic and emotion simultaneously. ” Clearly, men and women communicate differently. I believe communication between men and women is so challenging because we simply do not try to understand how the opposite sex thinks.
Men and women perceive things differently, and therefore have different actions for the same problem. It is a fact that science plays a huge role in this process. Women and men’s brains do function differently. Acclaimed author Deborah Tannen sums these differences up quite succinctly by pointing out that “women talk to establish rapport … while men talk to report. ” Communication can also be challenging for people from different cultures. Our culture dictates how we see things, and how we react to what we see. Our culture often determines how we communicate with others.
Our culture influences how we approach problems, and how we participate in groups and in communities. As people from different cultural groups began to work together, cultural values sometimes conflict. Non-verbal communication is perceived differently by different cultures. The appropriate degree of assertiveness in communicating can add to cultural misunderstandings. For instance, some white Americans typically consider raised voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while some black, Jewish and Italian Americans often feel that an increase in volume is a sign of an exciting conversation among friends.
Thus, some white Americans may react with greater alarm to a loud discussion than would members of some American ethnic or non-white racial groups (DuPraw & Axner, 1997). Becoming more aware of our cultural differences, as well as exploring our similarities, can help us communicate with each other more effectively. Communication is essential in any setting; Church, school, or work. Communication is how we share information, how we develop relationships, and how we establish trust. In our ever changing society, it is essential that we learn to communicate effectively with all cultures, and in diverse environments.
Communication can be difficult among people with the same background, so imagine how hard it can be for people of different backgrounds. To communicate effectively in a cultural diverse environment, we have to incorporate the social and cultural components. For example, if you are sitting alone at a restaurant and someone comes over and says, “Today has been extremely hot. ” That person is not telling you about the weather because they think you don’t know what the weather has been like; they are simply finding a connection point to start a conversation.
If you were from a different culture, and did not understand his or her intention, you would think this person was pretty strange. Another component in social communication is to comprehend the other person’s meaning in a message. For instance, when Americans say “how are you doing? ” Do they really want to know what is going on with you? No, they don’t. In our culture, “how are you doing? ” is just a greeting that does not require a long extended explanation, all that is expected is, “Fine, thank you. ” To address communication challenges, we must first understand that there are differences in communication styles.
Be patient and understanding of the differences, and in time some of the challenges with communication will subside. Working in diverse cultural environments can make communication challenging, but it can also provide new perspectives and ideas. Whether verbal, non-verbal, or between different cultures or genders, communication challenges are not unique to diverse environments. Good communication skills are essential in any environment. The better we are able to communicate the greater the chance of success when working with any group.