Gender Communication: What About Nonverbal Communication?

Sometimes when people are in a face to face conversations with someone of the opposite sex, they become self-conscious about their facial expressions, body posture, hand gestures, and eye contact. Nonverbal communication can seem a little awkward when it involves communication between women and men.

There are some noticeable differences in the nonverbal communication behaviors of women and men.

Men generally use more space in giving nonverbal messages. Men are more likely than women to use dominance cues such as speaking louder or violating someone else’s personal space or territory. Men maintain a less direct body position when talking and sit at an angle to each other.

Women are generally better than men at encoding and decoding nonverbal messages (in ninety five percent of the studies). Women are more accurate at interpreting other people’s facial expressions than men. Women are more likely than men to use cues of emotional warmth such as head nods, smiling, eye contact, and laughter. Women are more likely to squarely face each other when talking. Women are more likely to touch other women than men are to touch
other men.

Instead of just barging into other peoples’ offices or workspaces, stop at the threshold and ask for permission to enter. Pay a little more attention to others’ facial expressions, body postures, hand gestures, and eye contact.

Recognizing the differences in nonverbal behaviors between men and women is the first step and making minor adjustments in our nonverbal communication behavior is the second.

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