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Linguistic Styles that Challenge Effective Listening and Communications . Linda Schmitigal April 14, 2007. What is Linguistics?.

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linguistic styles that challenge effective listening and communications

Linguistic Styles that Challenge Effective Listening and Communications

Linda Schmitigal

April 14, 2007

what is linguistics
What is Linguistics?
  • Research on linguistic style defines linguistic style as “everything that is said must be said in a certain way—in a certain tone of voice, at a certain rate of speed, and with a certain degree of loudness“
  • Linguist style also refers to a person’s characteristic speaking pattern which includes features as directness or indirectness, pacing and pausing, word choice, and the use of such elements as jokes, figures of speech, stories, questions, and apologies (Tannen, 1995)
learned linguistics
Learned Linguistics
  • We learn these cultural signals during socialization, or they emerge as a result of gender segregated play during childhood (Speer, 2005)
  • one person speaks; the other responds creating a flow of words
  • pauses let us know when the speaker has completed his or her sentence and when it is time for us to speak
  • simple differences in pauses can have an impact on who gets heard and the judgment we make about people and their abilities
negotiating relationships
Negotiating relationships
  • Read the following statements and attempt to determine where the status lies:
    • Sit down
    • I would be honored if you would sit down
    • You must be so tired—why don’t you sit down
conversational rituals
Conversational Rituals
  • Girls tend to learn conversational rituals that focus on the rapport dimension of relationships whereas boys tend to learn rituals that focus on the status dimension” (Tannen, 1995, p. 140).
  • Unless managers are unusually good at listening closely to how people say what they mean, the talents of some employees may be undervalued and underutilized” (Tannen, 1995, p 141).
getting credit
Getting Credit
  • Men tend to use “I”, even when referring to decisions a group has made, while women tend to use “we” when referring to a collective decision (Tannen, 2001)
confidence and boasting
Confidence and Boasting
  • Women believe that their accomplishments will eventually become known and then they’ll get recognition
  • Keeping secrets and not boasting of one’s accomplishments is seen by men as lack of confidence (Tannen, 1995)
asking questions
Asking Questions
  • Men have been socialized not to ask questions because it may place them in a one down position
  • Women on the other hand ask questions and may be perceived by men as not being very smart
tag questions
Tag Questions
  • A tag question is a declarative statement that has been turned into a question with the use of a tag, such as “The war in Vietnam is terrible, isn’t it?” (Lakoff, 1975)
  • Puts the speaker in a one down position because the speaker sounds as though confirmation, reassurance, or approval is sought
  • “Women tend to say I’m sorry more frequently than men, and often they intend it in this way—as a ritualized means of expressing concern (Tannen, 1995, p. 143).
  • Women tend to provide feedback in a way that will save face for the recipient but does not get to the main point immediately (Tannen, 1995).
  • Creates a communication conflict where one person believes the other is not listening (the recipient) and the other person believes the sender did not communicate clearly
  • Women prefer to have praise for a job well done; the lack of praise means something is wrong
  • Men believe that everything is fine unless one is told there is a problem (Tannen, 2001)
ritual opposition
Ritual Opposition
  • Ritual fighting allows a person to defend an idea by having colleagues play devil’s advocate and challenge the idea to poke holes or find weaknesses; in actuality, this is a method that helps explore the idea and to test its possibilities (Ong, in Tannen, 2001)
negotiating authority
Negotiating Authority
  • Women are expected to hedge their beliefs as opinions, to seek opinions and advice from others, and to be polite in their requests. If a woman talks this way, she is seen as lacking authority. But if she talks with certainty, makes bold statements of fact rather than hedged statements of opinion, interrupts other, goes on at length, and speaks in a declamatory and aggressive manner, she will be disliked. (Tannen, 2001, p. 170)
  • Many linguists consider speaking indirectly reveals powerlessness or lack of self-confidence on the part of the speaker (Tannen, 2001)
    • It’s hot in here
  • Many of the techniques to improve effective listening can help managers learn to appreciate linguistic differences in people
    • Be interested; Judge content, not speaker; Stimulation-Over Stimulation; Facts and Central Ideas; Note taking; Work Output; Challenging factors; Emotional words; Thought/speech speed differential
  • Effective listening and communication determines our ability to influence others, to be listened to, and to get our own way rather than following others.
  • The intent of this research is not to say that one way of communicating is right and the other wrong or to drive a wedge further between the sexes or cultures but to help us all understand and benefit from the conversations we find ourselves in.

Gilbert, M. B. (2005). EAD885, Problem Solving in Educational Leadership. Course materials

Ong. W. J. (1981). Fighting for life: Contest, Sexuality, and consciousness. In Deborah Tannen, Talking from 9 to 5: Women and men at work. (pp. 57).

Speer, S. A. (2005). Gender talk: Feminism, discourse and conversation analysis. London and New York: Routledge

Tannen, D. (1995, September-October). The power of talk: Who gets heard and why. Harvard Business Review.

Tannen, D. (2001). Talking from 9 to 5: Women and men at work. (2nd ed). New York: Harper.