I commented to HW earlier today that I can tell whether he’s on the phone with a man or a woman, even when he’s on a professional call. He said he doesn’t find that surprising and could probably tell the same from listening to me.
It’s not that surprising, I guess. Study after study confirms that men and women are treated differently, and I have myself argued that men and women are fundamentally different. Why should a different phone voice be surprising?
Perhaps because despite my declarations yesterday, I am still floating along in my little bubble.
With HW I can, usually, figure out with whom he is speaking with some specificity. He can do the same for me. It makes sense that we speak differently to different people, depending on what we share in common, the reason for the conversation, and a number of other factors. I haven’t quite managed the Hillary Clinton accent switch, but I imagine my Midwestern shows more clearly when I’m around other people who speak that way.
Why is this worth thinking about or writing about? Words matter. Language matters. Tone matters. I think it’s worth taking a moment to consider how we speak to different people, and why. In some instances, it makes sense to make small changes (doesn’t it?), but in others, I imagine that we, or at least I, do it for reasons I wouldn’t love if I discovered them.