He Said:”You’re not listening to me!”; gender norms of arguing

Even in the strongest of friendships, arguing seems to be inevitable and the ways in which these situations are handled can vary. One contributing factor to hacking out the hassle may lie in gendered norms.

Studies in gendered communication show that men typically resort to working on solving the problem at hand rather than simply discussing a problem and generally engage in conversation that allows them to assert dominance and show knowledge. While it is reported commonly that men use talk to establish and defend personal beliefs and ideas, it is also reported that men tend to respect the independence of others and avoid condescending.

While I’m generally described as rather easy-going and open, there are gendered communication norms I find myself slipping into while in a quarrel with a friend. My main goal in an argument is to solve a tangible problem. Demonstrated knowledge and an openness to others views are two tools that must often be used to solve the issue at hand. I do not attempt to control or dominate an argument, as I find the only way a heated discussion can be beneficial is through an open discussion and, more often than not, compromise.

In an ever-adapting world, these gendered communication tactics may seem outdated and there are always exceptions. The studies referred to above can be found within Julia T. Wood’s textbook, Gendered Lives. To learn more about these rules and gendered communication, students may take Gender and Communication, a course taught by Dr. Mia Briceño, or Interpersonal Communication taught by Dr. Jane Elmes-Crahall.