Communication differences depend on group size and when it counts
Women and men communicate on different abstraction levels: Men tend to talk about the big picture and use explanations pretty often, whereas women score higher by focussing on details and concrete steps to be taken. If the audience is small and psychologically close the gender gap is widening. These are the results of six studies at the USC (University of South Carolina) which are interpreted by the scientists like this: Girls prefer to move around with one or two girl friends looking for emotional closeness which helps them to learns early to avoid too general talk and to show care by accurate communiation. For boys on the contrary due to sports teamsize and competition as such are still more common during their upbringing – therefore their talk is more general and they are less inhibited to present themselves in a positive way.
These differences in the communication approach are additionally getting significant when you want to look good: Women then focus on details and specialist knowlegde, men with context and goals.
„Gender Differences in Communicative Abstraction“, Joshi/Wakslak/Appel/Huang, in: Journal of Personalitiy and Social Psychology“, Oct. 2019, Advance online publication.
From the practice:
Have we finally found the reason why women on average tend to promote themselves much less convincingly then men? Because they in their communication approach bet on the wrong horse?
Perhaps. I am a little bit sceptical, though since I have observed this approach – pushing details instead of context – also with men. It is not the gender according to my expertise, but self confidence which is responsible whether you dare to talk about the big picture where you can fail and where you might be not the expert for. Another reason for this communication style might lie in the bias to facts and figures only of specific professions like legal, financial oder scientific experts. These people continously entrap themselves in details although context is demanded because they feel safe in the first and uneasy in the latter one.
My experience has made it very clear: it not an either or, it is a both and! You do need content and details if you want to communicate successfully with employees, business partners or voters.