Feminine speech patterns

I was very glad to see the "Stop Apologizing " post a few weeks ago, as I had often had the very same thought. I was also happy to see Rachel add to the conversation . And while I do agree with most of what’s been said so far, there is an important nuance that I want to make sure we don’t miss.
Women tend to use what are termed "feminine speech patterns". They’ll say "What if we did XYZ?" or "I think we should try XYZ" rather than "XYZ is the best solution." Women are then told that this type of language makes them sound (to men, especially) that they are insecure or unsure, and it allows other people to take credit for their ideas. So women start practicing being more forceful and more direct, because clearly masculine speech patterns are more effective. 
Wait, what?!? Since when do we just accept the fact that masculine equals better?
Turns out we shouldn’t. Feminine speech patterns are much better than masculine ones at encouraging engagement and building consensus. If all that matters is you prove your point, forceful and direct is fine. But if you are trying to get people on board with an idea or create an atmosphere where everyone is able to contribute their knowledge, phrasing things in terms of a question often works better. 
I recently participated in a workshop, where we split into male, female, and mixed gender groups and were given a simple project. At any given time, the groups with women tended to have more people participating. Also, midway through the activity we took a break and had to answer a few questions about what was going on. Groups with women tended to have more consensus about the way the project was going and about what the final solution would be (and the all-women groups tended to have the most consensus). If you asked a random person on the street "who are better communicators, men or women?", they’d likely tell you women. So why have we fallen into the trap of thinking that masculine speech patterns are more effective?
One thing to point out. Most men don’t realize all this, and will likely still draw the conclusion that you are insecure if you use feminine speech patterns. The "safest" thing to do for credibility’s sake may be to stick to more masculine speech patterns. So let’s add this idea to the types of sexism we fight every day. The problem isn’t the the way that women speak. The problem is the way men interpret it. That’s not saying that many women (myself included) shouldn’t learn to present ourselves more confidently. But let’s also make sure we all see the value in feminine speech patterns and help others to see that value as well. 
Oh, and basically this post is a punch in the face to patriarchy.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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