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HOW GENDER OR SEX AFFECT INTERPERSONAL OR INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION

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The aim of this essay is to examine how gender or sex affect interpersonal or intercultural communication. Thus, the relationship between gender and intercultural communication within the feminine and masculine world. In doing the discussion, the
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  HOW GENDER OR SEX AFFECT INTERPERSONAL OR INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION GIDEON ASANTE YEBOAH Email: Sevengreatwise@yahoomail.com  +233546113565/+233571642793 Abstract The aim of this essay is to examine how gender or sex affect interpersonal or intercultural communication. Thus, the relationship between gender and intercultural communication within the feminine and masculine world. In doing the discussion, the essay is divided into three sections. The first section discusses the keywords, the second section examines three relationship between gender and intercultural communication and the third section provides a viable conclusion. The thesis of this essay is that there is a strong bond between gender/sex and interpersonal/intercultural communication. Keywords : Gender, Sex, Interpersonal/Intercultural and Communication Introduction The interaction between culture and gender creates even more diversity. Some researchers claim that groups made up of diverse individuals from different cultural backgrounds and opposite sexes can bring the best talent to an organization and enhance organizational effectiveness (Cox et al., 1991). Yet, many diverse teams go on to achieve great results while the other teams never get out of the obstacles. The difference between the two depends on the processes that steer these teams. Scholars have found that people from different cultures perceive events and act upon them in different manners (Adler, 1997). Yet, when people who communicate do not share the same system of meanings, the communication process becomes more challenging and unknown effects  come into play. Understanding the effects of culture and gender on individual behavior within a team is of a high importance to the company that wants to operate successfully. Therefore, culture is deeply seated in the com munication process. Trompenaars (1997) claimed that “t he essence of culture is not what is visible on the surface ;  it is shared by ways teams of people understand and interpret the world” (Trompenaars, 1997: 3).   Communication is an essential part that lay the foundation for effective team processes. There are many problems associated with communication and one such phenomena is the issue of gender. Money and Hampson (1955) defined the term gender as what a person says or does to reveal that he or she has the status of being a boy or a girl, man or woman (masculinity or femininity of a person). According to Haig (2004) gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. This essay argues that depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex (i.e., the state of being male, female, or an intersex variation), sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gender identity. Although many people use the terms gender and sex interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. Sex is a designation based on biology, whereas gender is socially constructed and expressed. In most cases, sex and gender go together; most men are primarily masculine, and most women are primarily feminine. Intercultural Communication “credit is  often given to American anthropologist Edward T. Hall, who used it for the first time in his book The Silent Language in 1959 . The book is sometimes called "the field’s  founding document" (Hart 1998). Singer (1998) defined culture as: a pattern of learned, group-related perceptions  –  including both verbal and nonverbal language, attitudes, values, belief systems, disbelief systems and behaviors that is accepted and expected by an identity group (Singer, 1998:5). Intercultural communication is the study of communication between  people whose “c ultural perceptions and symbol systems are d istinct enough” to alter their communication. (Samovar and Porter, 1997:70). Gender plays a substantive role in social  processes. The emphasis of this essay is how gender and intercultural communication are related.  Gender and the extent to which one identifies with a gender group can have communicative consequences. Relationship between Gender and Intercultural Communication Psychological measure One issue relevant to gender and intercultural communication is that psychological measures of gender are frequently better predictors of communication. Possessing a gender schema is one such psychological conceptualization of gender. Gender schemata are cognitive structures that encourage processing social data in terms of gender and related constructs (Bem, 1981). In fact, gender schematic people tend to have their gender more strongly salient than non-schematic individuals (Carter & Levy, 1991). Gender demonstration individuals are more likely to have a regular salient gender with a prototype defined by the assertive and affiliative dimensions in traditional ways, which means that their communication is commonly based on stereotypical notions of gender (e.g., men are agentic, women are communal).   A gender schematic man will consider himself more masculine than feminine, whereas a gender schematic woman will see herself more feminine than masculine. The implication is that gender schematic women are less assertive and more affiliative than gender schematic men. People can be highly masculine and/or highly feminine and this alone can influence communication. Feminine men had greater emotional expressivity than masculine men, just as feminine women are more emotionally expressive than masculine women (Ganong & Coleman, 1985). The level of masculinity of men and women is  positively correlated with increased use of assertive forms of communication regardless of  people’s gender ( Fitzpatrick et al., 1995).   Psychological measures of masculinity and femininity are also related to how people perceive a situation and others’ c ommunicative behavior. In fact, women are more likely than men to perceive cooperativeness in situations because women we are  more nurturing and less dominant than men. Interpreting situations as cooperative can affect any  perceived inter-gender distinctions and serve to shape gender salience and its prototype. Status versus Relationship Another impact of gender on intercultural communication is the behaviour differences on issues between males and females. Men perceive communication to highlight their status whereas, women understand communication as a means to build their relationship. Men view conversation as a means to exchange information and solving problem. Men stay away from personal topics and discuss events, sports, news, and facts. They tell more stories and jokes than women do as a way to show status and power. Men are direct, blunt, and speech includes slang or swears words. Men get straight to work on a task and build relationships while working on the project. Men reflect and process information for decision making internally (Janet Shibley, 2005). Women avoid using aggressive and threatening language irrespective of their position. They exhibit their subordinate status by being polite and soft-spoken and demonstrate their authority in the same way but with a little bit of discipline and straight face. In both cases, they avoid direct and threatening communication. Women want to be with their families, help others, feel respected and cared about,  be a part of a community, be proud of the company they work for and be trusted. All of this reflects their need for connection and relationship, which is also the main reason why women are so well suited for business. Thus, their natural ability to develop and maintain relationships (Koppel et al, 2002). Women talk to build rapport and make connections. They discuss personal topics like relationships, feelings, and experiences. Women take turns communicating. Women tend to be indirect, tactful, and use more courtesy words. Women accomplish tasks by building relationships first. Women talk aloud to others, processing information externally for decision-making. The female communication pattern and traits tend to be nurturing, indirect, and respectful. It is  considered “rapport” type talk   (Romaine, 2000). Considering non-verbal communication, women gain an upper hand over their male counterparts Women interpret non-verbal communication  better than men do. Men are less comfortable with making eye contact than women. Apparently, it has something to do with dominance, power and status. Language Usage Another impact of gender on intercultural communication is the language use between males and females . One dimension is usually characterized as assertive forms of communication and  primarily reflects masculinity (Leaper & Ayres, 2007). Assertive speech serves to increase one’s ability to influence others and yield certain outcomes. Women have always had lower status than men have and it is not easy to overcome stereotypes, which are so deeply rooted in society. They surround us, from popular Disney movies to the Bible. It seems that this position of women reflects their communication style. Women for example have a tendency to be more polite and talkative. According to Fausto-Sterling (2001) “for females, the process of communication itself is valued”. They are more focused on establishing and maintaining contacts and sharing opinions and emotions. Whereas, men are searching for being appreciated by women and underscoring their own position in the hierarchy. Overall, the main goal of male conversation is breaking the news to the listener as directly and briefly as possible to avoid being misunderstood. Moreover, men have a tendency to interrupt and speak more confidently than women in order to establish leadership and impress their listeners. On the other hand, female communication style focuses on building mutual understanding and support as well as raising the level of trust and respect instead of dominating their listeners. According to John Gray, the way of communication reflects the variety of values, goals and needs of gender. It is common knowledge that men are goal-oriented whereas women are relationship-oriented. Affiliative language promotes closeness, attachment, and
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