Men’s talk tends to focus on hierarchy—competition for relative power—whereas women’s tends to focus on connection—relative closeness or distance.
But all conversations, and all relationships, reflect a combination of hierarchy and connection. The two are not mutually exclusive but inextricably intertwined. All of us aspire to be powerful, and we all want to connect with others. Women’s and men’s conversational styles are simply different ways of reaching the same goals.
The context in which women’s focus on hierarchy and men’s on connection is most obvious and most intense: the family. In particular, sisters provide insight into relationships among women that are deeply influenced by competition and hierarchy as well as connection.