In her best-selling book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Deborah Tannen says the sexes often speak virtually different languages. She calls it "report talk" vs. "rapport talk."
Men tend to use "report talk" to convey information and self-importance, while women tend to use "rapport talk" to establish intimacy and connection. Tannen says that women will then see men as self-centered and domineering, while men will then see women as illogical and insecure.
WHO DOES MORE OF THE TALKING, AND UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
"Who talks more, then, women or men? The seemingly contradictory evidence is reconciled by the difference between what I call public and private speaking. More men feel comfortable doing `public speaking,' while more women feel comfortable doing `private' speaking. Another way of capturing these differences is by using the terms report-talk and rapport-talk.
"For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Emphasis is placed on displaying similarities and matching experiences. From childhood, girls criticize peers who try to stand out or appear better than others." (pg. 76, 77)
"From childhood, men learn to use talking as a way to get and keep attention. So they are more comfortable speaking in larger groups made up of people they know less well -- in the broadest sense, `public speaking.' But even the most private situations can be approached like public speaking, more like giving a report than establishing rapport." (pg. 77)
"Many men honestly do not know what women want, and women honestly do not know why men find what they want so hard to comprehend and deliver." (pg. 81)
JUDGMENTS ABOUT WHY PEOPLE TALK AND DON'T TALK.
"For girls, talk is the glue that holds relationships together. Boys' relationships are held together primarily by activities: doing things together, or talking about activities such as sports or, later, politics." (pg. 85)
"Women and men are inclined to understand each other in terms of their own styles because we assume we all live in the same world. [A] young man in [Thomas Fox' college] writing class noticed that his female peers refused to speak with authority. He imagined the reason to be that they feared being wrong. For him, the point was knowledge, a matter of individual ability. It did not occur to him that what they feared was not being wrong, but being offensive. For them, the point was connection: their relation to the group." (pg. 179)