Ever wonder why articles on gender differences in language automatically assume that men are the standard and women are doing things worse? Yeah, me too.
Is it time for men to stop diminishing their credibility as leaders with their diction and syntax patterns? A linguistic analysis of professional communication shows some marked gender differences, which can only be interpreted as indicators of male incompetence:
Men disproportionately underuse apologies, appearantly neglecting to account for how their actions effect others. Perhaps this is because men are not raised to develop the skills of accountability or empathy needed for a functional work environment.
They are also less likely to use “just” as a qualifier in describing even their most trivial activities and intentions. Such language gives the impression that they overestimate the scale and importance of their own work, not fully aware of the larger workings of their organization.
Men are unlikely to introduce their statements with an acknowledgement of their subjective existence, such as “In my opinion,” or “I feel,” instead stating their opinions as if they were indisputable facts. This suggests they subscribe to the fallacy that they are neutral observers uninfluenced by their personal standpoint and experiences–an mindset especially inappropriate for companies with international operations.
In a typical mansplainy fashion, men are also less likely to hedge “I might be wrong,” or “I’m not sure,” to acknowledge when they are commenting on something they are terribly uninformed about. This unrealistic over-estimation of the scope of one’s knowledge is warning sign for brash, uninformed, and ultimately disastrous business decisions.
Would anyone trust leaders who seem so irresponsible, egocentric, and irrational? With these flaws, it’s hard to understand why men still seem to dominate corporate leadership positions (After all, what kind of organization would encourage selfish and risky behavior?). Maybe it’s a result of historical inequality or something, but now that sexism is over (so I’ve heard), men will quickly loose their ground unless they learn to project a more responsible, considerate image.
Of course, we can help fix this problem by asking men to constantly monitor their language to avoid gender-typical patterns, but given that language is so deeply ingrained, real change will only come through the purchase of my products.
I offer speech coaching for only $250 a session to help men de-gender their speech habits. For those unwilling to make that commitment, I have developed an app which will scan your email drafts to identify and correct overly masculine language (No, it can’t interpret meaning, intention, or context, but it can indiscriminately sprinkle in phrases like “Sorry,” “I feel that,” and “Does that work for you?”).
Of course, the issue of men in the workplace goes beyond just language. I have also published Stop Leaning on Me, a guidebook for young ambitious male executives hoping to rise above the of lack of personal responsibility and regard for others that plague leaders of their gender (pre-order your copy now for $50).
After all, when it comes to undoing the results of long-standing and socially pervasive gender inequality, the one person who needs to make the change is you.
Seriously though, I do understand where the “don’t say sorry” movement is coming from: it is worth looking at how internalized sexism affects confidence in language, and “fake it till you make it” can be a useful personal strategy in some situations. But the emphasis on female-language-correction seems to be missing the point–and conveniently, getting women to pay for it.