tried and true

college, communication, communication styles, gender and communication, gender studies, The U, university

In my gender class we talked about feminine and masculine communication styles. Y'know, the reasons why he doesn't ask more questions, why he ducks his head when “we need to talk,” why she asks you questions all the time and why he tries to solve your problems when you “just need someone to talk to!” Yeah, that stuff.

Studies show that men and women have different speaking styles (duh). What those studies also show is that is NUTURE. NOT NATURE. This all goes back to when we were all wee children and our sex-segregated play groups. Don't lie, you know little girls congregate by the swings or flipping bars to chat and giggle while the little boys organize a game of four-square or kickball. It just happens. “Because that's what little boys and girls do.” NUTURE I tell you.

ANYWAY, more people doing more studies say that men and women both interrupt during conversations (duh). The significance is WHY they interrupt. Women interrupt to ask questions, relate to the situation, provide active listening cues and to provide support and connection. For men, speaking means they are the center of attention, they have control over the conversation, they interrupt so assert control and “one-up” each other. (Obviously we're speaking in generalizations here. Relax.)

I thought this was an interesting tidbit of information, recognized my own difficulties with speaking to dudes and didn't think much about it beyond that.

Until this morning.

Everyone is nice when you first meet them, including the guy who sits next to me. As the weeks have gone by he is most usually late and in a really crummy mood. Actually, I think he just has a crummy attitude. But, since we're not friends, family or a couple I don't really care.

He missed class on Monday which included an in-class graded assignment. This morning he came in and the first thing he did when he sat down was turn to me and say

“Did we have an in-class graded assignment on Monday?”

First of all, it's on your syllabus, which you probably looked at to see what you missed and that's why you asked such a specific question.

Second, there is always an in-class writing assignment, it's a writing class.

“Yes.” I try to keep my answers short and sweet or I can come off as kind of a bitch. Trust me, it's true.

HEAVY sigh. “Was it on the syllabus?”


“Well she should announce that shit.”

“It's on the syllabus.”

“Well I have 3 other classes that are 4 and 5000 level classes and this one is only a 1000. They take up so much time that I just don't keep up with this one.”

First, if you had 5000 level courses you'd be in graduate school and not taking a 1000 level course.

Second, “I have 1 of those as well. It is way more work than this one.”

Do you see what I did there? He's telling me a story to assert his situation is worse than mine. I told my story to relate to his and make our situations the same. He was annoyed.

The conversation goes on for another 5 minutes before the class started. He's fairly combative in his speech anyway, but with our little power struggle he was particularly testy. And at this point I forget about being polite and respectful and point out what an idiot he is. At which point he stops talking to me.


I hope we don't have to play this little game every day. I'm not sure how much you can handle being told you suck.

Although, to give him a little credit, I did hear his rather frustrated explaination of why the school dropped him from all his classes and that his financial aid didn't come through. Sorry dude. You should put a little effort into your karma.