1.0 History: In the last thirty years, there has been considerable changes in the way men and women's regard each other's roles and their image. The sixties, with the liberation of the pill and unisex fashion, it meant that men and women started to present themselves in very similar ways. Men adopted feminine styles of long hair, floral patterns and paisley. Women wore boyish clothes and gamine haircuts. In the seventies, women started to 'power dress', wearing clothes that sometimes made them look like imitation men. The eighties had men and women conforming and becoming conservative, as the number of women in the workplace began to show it's effect.
We saw a softer 'new man', with terms rising such as 'SensitiveNewAageGuy'. Woman would now dress in tailored clothes, with often long flowing locks. The nineties contains a further growth in female employment and increasing concern with green issues, with the prediction of a further blurring of traditional sex roles between man and women. 2.0 Cultural Differences: Some Eastern nationalities, where they generally show very little emotion and little facial expression most of the time, apart from when in grief.
In our culture, women are generally considered more emotionally expressive. In the East, women are conditioned to make little direct eye contact, giving them the impression of subordination and having little self-confidence 3.0 Society: Society still associates power with masculinity causing many to find it difficult to connect power and femininity. Therefore a large man in society will find it easier, than a small man as size tends to be equated with power and significance. Similarly, it's easier to be a small women than a large one.
Small people generally appear vulnerable and make others want to protect them in society's standards. Society seems to like men to be the strong, silent type an expect them to have decided views and opinions and clear goals. Men are seen as being less concerned with what others think of them, and are more achievement focused. Women on the other hand, are brought up by society concerning themselves more with relationships. '... They are expected to make themselves look physically attractive, and to be responsive to the needs of others.
The roles of mother, wife and daughter require them to develop their caring and nurturing capacities, and they often define them as much in terms of family relationships as by what they do... ' ('Your Total Image', Philippa Davies). Women are generally thought to do well in jobs requiring people skills. This may have come about from years of conditioning, where the focus is on others which results in women tending to have a greater awareness of non-verbal signals compared to men. Women are encouraged to be expressive and responsive and therefore often reveal far more effortlessly what they are thinking.
Familiar with the term 'Little boys don't cry' Little girls are allowed to show emotion. For men it is considered socially unacceptable to show emotion, for they are then thought of as vulnerable. Society deems men to show power, masculinity, by being more distant and less expressive and using less facial expression. Men tend to express what they " re thinking rather than feeling, the general opposite of women. You will find that men will often talk more and listen less effectively, and be more complex than women; with a higher value on what words indicate than on non-verbal signals. Generally men are more likely to regard their appearance as a minor importance, causing a man's first impression to be that he is most concerned with establishing power and self-importance.
4.0 Media and Advertising: Advertisers always have a new gizmo or idea on how we can / should look our best. An example of this is beast implants, reinforced with the bombardment of supporting advertising from both a female and male advantage. Advertisements depicting beautiful women, handsome men, and sleek new cars. Women, men and cars, all travelling at unrealistic excessive speeds. With this, advertisers are hoping that viewers respond purely to the lure of sexuality and power rather than any facts about the car itself. 5.0 The Workplace: Non-verbal communication (body language) can differ according to gender.
As more and more women enter into the workplace the signals are tending to change. Women are beginning to use the same signals as men in the road to power and position. Women are generally better at expressing warmth through facial expression. In the workplace women who smile and nod communicate friendliness and openness with the appearance of sincerity. Men, though have the added advantage of generally being more comfortable with handshakes, which is very commonplace in business. Handshakes are a tool used and taught to men as part of their initial social skills.
A man's handshake should be firm without being bone crushing. A women's should be full, firm and brief. The amount of time a women's hand is held in a handshake can have intimate connotations. It is usual to see in men a sense of arrogance within the workplace due to this traditionally being predominantly a male-orientated environment.
Men often portray themselves as 'I've seen it and heard it all before, nothing you tell me will be new or surprise me'. This is shown by an unsmiling face, accompanied with the occasional raised eyebrow and a shrug, giving the male a sense of competence, of being in charge. In both men and women the key to appearing youthful is posture and voice. Moving easily, not cautiously, standing and sitting upright, and getting up and sitting down with ease all contribute to a younger appearance, an appearance of vigour and strength. Women, along with those mentioned use other methods to conceal age - hair colouring, younger dress and plastic surgery (Men also use some of these methods, however the pressure to stay young is not so great as is with females).
In business men and women are most suitable when they embrace aging gracefully, for with this show of age comes the image of wisdom, greater expertise and experience. 6.0 In Conversation: Women generally, more than men, move their heads a great deal when they talk, as if they are looking for an approving response from others; such as a nod accompanied with a smile, back. It is noticeable that female impersonators exaggerate head movement to appear more feminine. When two women talk, their heads appear to be doing some sort of dance where one head moves in one direction and the other following.
Something that women tend to do more than men is that women appear to keep qualifying what they are saying and checking that others approve, this causes them to sound as if they are not definite and confident. Men tend to interrupt women more than the other way round; women are generally better listeners. Women tend to notice detail whereas men notices the overall effect. For example, a women may notice that a man has an attractive tie, or a women has used eye make-up well, in the same instance, a man would think that the other man had dressed appropriately and the women had a nice face. 7.0 Hair: '... ".
A lot of women... when they cut their hair... feel freer, more aggressive, more energetic... ' ('Body Language in the Workplace' Julius Fast). Most women have had past role models with long hair. Some women liken cutting their long hair to short, as losing their femininity. In balding men, the 'comb-over' (combing over the few strands left to disguise the loss of hair) is unsuitable. For this only portrays the image of a man pathetically holding onto his youth.
8.0 Eyes: Steady, direct eye contact is essential if you want to put over a confident, honest, receptive image. Generally, men make a lot of steady eye contact when they speak, and less when they listen. Whereas, women make good eye contact when they listen but maintain it less when they speak. 9.0 Voice: It has been said that the voice could be considered 'the second face' for our voices can reveal our history almost as much as our faces do. A problem that is more prevalent in women than men is when we are feeling panic or tension; our voice, it's tone and pitch, tends to rise which creates a shrill tone. This happens to a greater extent with women due to the female vocal cords being shorter and therefore able to produce a higher range of pitch.
However, this can all lead to a misinterpretation, where the women can be seen as emotionally out of control purely because what she is speaking about causes her apprehension, and hence the rise in pitch. 10.0 Dress: Women's clothes come in a wide variety of shapes and there is far greater choice than men's. A garment can suggest overt romanticism, sexuality, domesticity or the exotic. However, even though women have more variety they also have more chances to dress inappropriately. 11.0 Posture: Women send revealing body language not only by the way they sit, stand, and walk, but also by the way they carry their beasts. It is impossible to give the appearance of confidence and certainty when the shoulders are forward with the breasts pulled inward.
This can give the persona of 'I'm ashamed of my body'. With men the tightness of his abdominal muscles, pulling in his stomach sends the appearance of strength. The persona of 'I am making an impression for you. I want to make an impact'. Generally a man will sit up, on alert, when he feels threatened by another man. Whereas in the case of a man feeling threatened by a women he will lounge back.
It is very unusual for a women to sit at attention if she feels threatened, generally she will move away from the threat. A man's walk generally consists of the chin raised arrogantly, arms swinging, legs stiff in a sort of strut. It gives the persona 'I'm an important person'. A woman's walk is almost a glide, with the body erect but swaying.
This walk can be seen as sultry and provocative. It certainly isn't the walk suited for the world of business. Women often will unconsciously draw attention to their femininity by standing with the weight on one leg, causing the hips to be thrown to the side. This then draws an observer's eye to that area.
12.0 Gestures: A women may be raised thinking that excessive gesturing is not in some way feminine. A man may have been raised with the idea that showing emotion is not masculine and hence would effect his gesturing repertoire compared to that of a women. Some gestures are more prevalent among the certain sexes, for example: a man straightening his tie, a women pushing back her hair, however they are not absolutely linked to one particular sex. Different expressions can be sent by the same gesture, depending on whether a man or woman uses it.
For example the hand of a man with the palm up, hand out gives a placating impression, but the same gesture by a women has a courting or flirting impression. Both sexes can learn to adapt their total image so that they become more flexible in dealing with one another. Men can improve their understanding of other and develop interpersonal skills; women can learn to improve the way the convey self-possession and power. We can learn from each other. Lastly, remember that in both sexes there are, of course exceptions.
'You Just Don't Understand. Women and Men in Conversation' Deborah Hanne n, Ph. D. 'Men, Women & Relationships. Making Peace With The Opposite Sex' John Gray, Ph. D. 'Hers and His - Gender roles in Australia' Richard Linden 'Your Total Image' Philippa Davies 'Body Language' Julius Fast 318.