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Analysis Of Genderlect Theory

1480 words - 6 pages

Few things can be as frustrating as trying to communicate with the opposite gender. Every day each one of us is faced with the struggle of trying to relay our thoughts across the gender gap, and Deborah Tannen attempts to explain why we have those complications with a theory called the Genderlect theory. This theory was developed to explain the fundamental differences between the methods each gender use to communicate. I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend time shadowing a PA at a local clinic and through that I gained first-hand insight into the principles of the Genderlect theory. Observing the conversation styles of men and women revealed the most, but the ...view middle of the document...

She hopes to promote mutual understanding in the differences between communicative styles and shun the idea that one form is superior to the other (Tannen, 1990).
Description of Selected Artifact
A situation where I have been able to observe these fundamental differences in communication occurred during my stint spent shadowing a PA named Mrs. Bryant in a local clinic. To limit the amount of information to process, I chose a single day that I remember in detail because I also shadowed a doctor, Dr. Flatt, the same day. When shadowing, I would often stand back and observe the process in which the professionals came to a diagnosis. Although I was primarily focused on the diagnoses themselves, I also noticed that there were discernible differences in which Mrs. Bryant communicated with her male as opposed to her female patients. In addition to those differences, I also noticed a difference in the communication styles of male and female professionals. Mrs. Bryant, a female, and Dr. Flatt, a male, each engaged their patients in a drastically different way. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Bryant prior to this paper concerning the Genderlect theory.
"I approach each patient with a certain mindset. If they are male, I'm prepared to get down to business and be done in a minute. If they are female, I'm prepared to talk about my kids, family, school, weather, and toe fuzz and be in there for an hour." (J. Bryant, personal communication, December 23, 2013) This was the response I was given when I asked Mrs. Bryant how she approaches patients according to their gender. Although she had no prior knowledge of the Genderlect theory, it is evident that it plays a part in her daily life because she tailors herself to mimic the type of communication style the patient displays.
Analysis of Artifact
When confronting male patients, Mrs. Bryant emulated the male style of communication. She would often skip or hurry through the formalities of social exchange and instead move straight into questions regarding the complication at hand. Additionally, the questions the patients asked consisted prominently of recovery time, possible side effects, long-term effects, and cost of treatment. Since these exchanges were more concerned with relaying information rather than socializing, this behavior strongly demonstrates Tannen's idea that men use communication to achieve a task. In this sort of encounter, the task was simply to gain information. After their questions were answered, there was usually little social interaction afterwards which also supports the theory.
On the contrary, Mrs. Bryant didn't have to cater her communication style to women, because she communicated in the same manner. The typical exchange between a female patient and Mrs. Bryant began with dialogue concerning their kids, husbands, and some other extraneous topic. The business part of the visit was then relatively short, and the encounter ended with more conversation about affairs...

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