communication is the means by which ideas and information are spread from person to person. People use

communication to express feelings, emotions, opinions and values, to learn and teach, and to improve their

status. Communication is therefore vital to human interaction whether between parents and children, bosses

and employees or even husband and wife. The diversity and characteristics of those involved in any

interaction can thus affect communication. Taking account of any diversity in interaction rather than

assuming uniformity is important to achieving effective communication.

Good communication is difficult to master and can be a major source of strife in any situation or business.

Gaps in communication arise when the intended message is not transmitted or the message is

misunderstood. The resultant miscommunication is mainly due to the different styles of communication

amongst people. In order to understand the differences of communications patterns we should begin by

considering the different elements of the communication process between the sender of the information and

receiver. In any form of communication, the sender has a message to transmit that becomes encoded. The

receiver obtains this encoded message via some medium or channel e.g. verbal, nonverbal or written, which

is then decoded and translated (as shown in the following diagram). In order for the communication process

to work both the sender and the receiver must understand the codes. As an example consider the encrypted

messages that were sent during World War II. In order for the receiver to understand the message,

knowledge of the code was important. We can even consider the situation of an English speaker in Japan.

For effective communication either one or both parties should be able to understand and communicate in the

language of the other. Good and effective communication can therefore be affected by many things including

the situation, time, culture, and gender. The assertion that gender affects communication in different ways

has been accepted by a large part of the population today. Gender differences in communication may pose

problems in interpersonal interactions leading to intolerance, resentment, stress and decreased productivity.

This is extremely critical in business organizations but even moreso in your everyday world and therefore an

examination of these differences in the first step to understanding the issues involved and moving towards

better communication.

In any study of communication, there is variability in what is meant by "communication". Some individuals

may consider only the verbal attributes whereas yet others will consider nonverbal interactions -- and the

smart will focus on both. Additionally research studies have focused either on both the microscopic and the

macroscopic levels of communication. The microscopic level deals with performance or perception of verbal

and nonverbal behavior and the macroscopic assesses behavior on a global level (Canary & Dindia, 1992).

In this discussion, both verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication will be considered.

Gender communication Many people use the words gender and sex interchangeably, however these words

do not mean the same thing. The word sex refers to the genetic and biological status of being male or

female, while gender refers to the psychological and social manifestations of being male or female, i.e. the

socially defined, learned, constructed accoutrements of sex, such as hairstyle, dress, nonverbal mannerisms,

and interests (Lippa, 2002). Gender therefore focuses on the social construct regarding the behavioral,

cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex. It concentrates on the roles and

responsibilities, expectations, and aptitude of men and women that are learned, and modified as a result of

the interaction of culture, society and environment.

There are two views regarding gender -- the essentialist and the social constructionist views (Robb, 2004).

The essentialist view gender as that with which we were born, being part of our genetic make-up. The male

and female roles are therefore distinct identities and they shape behavior. However, this view might be

somewhat limited since it does not account for the masculine and feminine attributes inherent in people. The

social constructionist upholds the idea that psychological conditioning early in life leads to who we are and

become as a result of the social interactions. Therefore in this view gender is shaped by society, culture and


What then is gender communication? Several have used the term to signify the differences in

communication due to biology and others use it to represent differences resulting from