When you are standing around at work and shooting the breeze with your coworkers, do you feel comfortable and confident in your conversations? Or have you noticed that sometimes the conversation with someone of the opposite sex feels awkward? Maybe it is because men and women talk about different things.
You may feel somewhat awkward because men and women have a different depth and breadth concerning topics of conversation. When it comes to men and self-disclosure: men tend to talk about “what they do.” When it comes to women and self-disclosure: women tend to talk about “who they are.”
Men avoid self-disclosing information, to maintain control. Since self-disclosure involves making them vulnerable, men assume that they will lose some control if they disclose intimate information about themselves. Women will also avoid self-disclosing information, but for a different reason, in order to avoid being hurt, or hurting others, or creating relational problems.
The topics of conversation are different, too. In one of my interpersonal communication textbooks, there is a study that reveals that men with men tend to talk about music, current events, sports, and work. Women with women, tend to talk about personal and domestic topics, relationship problems, family, health, reproductive matters, weight, food, clothing, men, and other women.
So, there are not only differences in depth of self-disclosure, but also the breadth of topics discussed. Work life is a task event and a social event. We need to be at our best behavior. I have a couple of rules when it comes to self-disclosure. Make sure it is relevant to the relationship and appropriate to the situation, otherwise bite your tongue.