The social power structure is reflected in the way people communicate. Attitudes related to these structures can therefore be noted in the way we behave in conversations. These structures are influenced by numerous factors, such as the age difference between conversational partners or the nature of their relationship. For example, the social positions of conversational partners towards each other could be described by pointing out who speaks more, who directs the topic of the conversation, or who interrupts others more.
Study of conversational dominance patterns has shown that women are interrupted much more than men. For example, in the first US presidential election debate last year, Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times, while Clinton interrupted Trump 17 times. Although those kinds of interferences aren’t necessarily aggressive or even arrogant, men often interrupt women just to ensure dominant positions for themselves.
Terms such as “manterruption” (a man’s unnecessary interference when a woman is speaking), “mansplaining” (when a man cuts a woman’s speech short so he can explain something – even when she happens to be an expert on the subject), as well as “bropropriating” (when a man takes credit for a woman’s idea) have started to spread in social media to point out the social inequality between men and women. Continue reading