The world has a current population of almost 8 billion
people, with such a vast number of habitants comes a vast array of
communication styles. Although these styles have been looked at for years from
sociological and anthropological viewpoints, confusion still occurs when it
comes to how people choose to communicate. Everyone communicates with each
other in different ways, whether it is because of their gender or their race.
is a key part in any society, and when societies undergo growth or change
communication can become altered. This ever changing aspect of communication is
why it would benefit any member of society to be informed on how communication
changes, and how different people choose to communicate.
Tannen, linguistics professor at Georgetown University and Author of How Male and Female Students Use Language
Differently, describes the process that lead her to the interest learning
of how different students communicate. This knowledge helps in getting a deeper
grasp of what others are saying, or not saying. While Tannen’s observations
focus primarily on her students, the findings can be put in to place outside of
her classroom when looking at different groups of people including racial and
that people are placed into or self-identify with are unrelated to their
communication styles, an example of this would be a group of females. Tannen
found that “It is simply that a greater percentage of discussion time is taken
by men’s voices” (Tannen 369). Women and men
differ in many ways, and this differentiation does not stop communication.
Tannen also shows how women are more afraid to speak up during discussion
before being separated into male and female only groups. When she kept the
class together for discussion, males dominated the classroom by giving their
opinions and arguments, while most women just kept to themselves until they
were broken off into a group with just other women.
Not only do
the likelihood women have to speak up and make their communication type stand
apart from that of the males, but how they speak and what prompts them to give
a response shapes their communication in a variety of ways. “Women are more
likely to resist discussion they perceive as hostile. . .” (Tannen 371). While males engage
in conversations that provoke an argument or a challenge, women will back down
from arguments and prefer to engage in more meaningful discussions such as anecdotes
or certain takeaway lessons.
large group in society is racial groups, one of the main racial groups that
Beverly Tatum, psychologist and author of Why
Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? , discusses the
communication patterns of African American students in modern day high schools,
specifically cafeterias. The gist of Tatum’s work is to find the answer as to
why Black kids choose to separate themselves into their own body.
goes further into the study of communication, past how they communicate, what
prompts them to communicate and straight to who they are choosing to
communicate with. “They not only choose to discontinue the conversation but are
more likely to turn to someone who will understand their perspective” (Tatum 381). Here, Tatum
discusses how Black students shy away from the White students and seek comfort
and understanding in their fellow classmates. This sense of community comes
within the racial group is also examined by Tannen where she states that the
Asian kids in class were still afraid to speak up after being divided into
gendered groups, them spoke more when placed into racial groups. Further
showing that students are more vocal when surrounded by people that are most
remaining example that connects ideas from the works of both Tannen and Tatum
is how different male and female teachers interacted with Black students. While
one teacher was trying to urge a Black student to attend their high school’s
upcoming dance, he included the message that he knew “you people” love to
dance, giving in to the stereotype that Black people enjoy dancing and setting
the student apart by labeling her based off of their race. Not only did he
label her, but using a downgrading term such as “you people” could be seen as
hostile and embarrassing to the teen.
another class time a substitute teacher was asking students about their future
plans and giving her own personal recommendations to these students. Being a
substitute she was genuinely curious about the students’ career paths and had
little knowledge of their current academic standings at the school. She went
around the class listening to the students desired majors and suggested
four-year institutions to these students. When she came to one of the few Black
students in the class a community college is what she recommended to him. While
this was not as upfront and hostile, the teen certainly got the message and may
have felt ashamed.
instances can be better understood when looking at Tannen’s observations of how
women and men communicate differently. The male teacher had an easier time
being upfront and rather harsh with his words, while the female teacher offered
criticism that could still been seen as damaging, but more soft and hidden.
Differences in how male and females communicate can cause some tension in
certain individuals when they are unsure how to take in words of someone from
another gender or racial group.
is a lot to learn by the ways of which people communicate. After all,
communication is the one thing that brings us all together and keeps us
together, or sometimes tears us apart. Although not many people are jumping
toward new knowledge of communication types with willingness, it should be
something that people understand to relate better to those around us. Whether
it is interpreting what a male was really trying to say when he harshly tore
apart your essay during a review, or finding out what to make of your Black
friend turning away from you during a time they felt discriminated against in
school communication styles play a huge role. Communication is an ever-changing
thing in today’s world, and with the responsibility to have an ever-changing
knowledge of those around us.