Sunday, March 1, 1998 at 07:08:36

I sometimes wonder if filled pauses might be more of a male (vs. female) thing.   It's the running joke in our family that the men hate to be interrupted, whereas the women enjoy it.  Perhaps this is just our family.

- KB

There is some research to suggest gender differences in the use of filled pauses (in addition to numourous accounts in the feedback I've been receiving).  The research (including my own dissertation) suggests that one tends to use more FPs (filled pauses) when one is being more assertive in order to downplay the potential impact of the assertion.  Women are generally more inclined to do this since they have been socially conditioned to be less assertive.  However, both males and females use this technique to mitigate their assertiveness.  Do you think your family exemplifies this or is in contrast with this?

That's an interesting idea.  I saw that thought in the notes on your home page as well, but it didn't seem to jibe with my familial relations.

In our family, the men (I really don't want to appear sexist here, but it's a recurring joke amongst our family) tend to launch into long statements during which it is impolite to interrupt.  Our way of knowing that the thought hasn't been fully delivered is often with FP's.  The other male does the "active listening" thing until he perceives that the thought has been fully expressed.

The women aren't nearly as precise.  Interruptions are welcome as dynamic and helpful.  A conversation can take many interesting turns without ever fully exploring the original thought.  That drives the men crazy.  We need to focus on the single idea until, by mutual agreement, it has been fully explored.

Also, the men get too-easily insulted when interrupted.  The women think we're weird and the men think the women are impolite. I suppose this is a gear change from the original topic, but it seems to be at least tangential.

Interesting.  As you describe your family, I find many similarities in the men(including myself) and women I know.  I seem to remember reading before (although I cannot now recall where) that men tend to approach an idea in a linear fashion, that is, to take the original thought through logical series of steps to a conclusion.  Women, on the other hand, tend to 'spiral' into a conclusion, taking longer, but perhaps getting a better sense of 'the big picture'.

This idea is tangential to my study of FPs and very interesting.  May I take a step back, though, in that direction and inquire how the women (and men) use FPs either to prevent interruption (probably by men) or perhaps to signal appropriate places for interruption (by women)?

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