All of us experience a distinct style difference in our e-mail correspondence with men and women. Men’s e-mails, like their conversations, tend to be short, abbreviated, and to the point. A few of our favorite e-mails sent by men are one to three words: let’s do it, go for it, yup, Roger that, okay, done, no, yes, all systems go, and ditto. One could argue that men are even more to-the-point in e-mail than in speech. Men are goal- and task-oriented. In the man’s mind, shorter is better and e-mail is a tool for efficiency and nothing else.

Another aspect of e-mail reveals women as more process-oriented. While both sexes are focused on the same end result, each will express status differently: the woman describing the process and the man describing in a direct manner the end result or goal. The woman will often include details that the man considers unimportant and unnecessary.

Here is a case study from one of my clients that reflect an email explanation of the same case from both a woman and male attorney.

Her response:

I spoke with the SIU investigator to let him know that Mr. Insured has “lawyered up,” and the EUOs have been postponed. He told me that he received a certified letter “purported” to be from Mr. Insured, asking for copies of reports. He forwarded the letter to Ms. Client to forward to us for handling.

After I spoke with Mr. Investigator, I was wandering through Parties and realized that Mr. Independent Adjuster was the person I was supposed to contact, not Mr. Investigator. I advised Mr. Independent Adjuster of the “lawyering up” and Mr. Insured’s request for postpone of 30 days. Mr. Independent Adjuster may be in the hospital in 30 days. He has a suspected aorta aneurysm and will be having open heart surgery. He will keep us advised. Court reporter has been advised of postponement.

His response:

Mission accomplished.

Since women tend to use a facilitative communication style, seeking dialogue, they communicate by including details that can make an e-mail rich in facts and sometimes provide necessary background information. In contrast men, being more prone to a restricting style of communication, seem to feel one word or sentence is sufficient. If it answers the question and concern in one sentence, it works.

A study, “Yakity-Yak: Who Talks Back? An E-Mail Experiment,” conducted at California State University, Fullerton, asked the question, “Who talks more—men or women?” by analyzing gender differences in talking via electronic communication (Brajer & Gill, 2010). The researchers found that women used on average 26.9 percent more words than men

Most Recent Posts from He Speaks, She Speaks

Where Do We Draw the Line with Office Romance?

How can a woman successfully maintain a workplace romance?

When Love Goes Bad at the Office

Does Cupid have a place in the office?

Cupid at the Office

Workplace romances represent a unique kind of relationship.