I can always tell who my partner is talking to when he is on the phone, just by his tone of voice.
There is the enthusiastic tone he takes with his mates, the official tone with his work colleagues, the bloke-ish series of grunts (and shocking deterioration of language) that accompanies chats with his old school mates, and the sweeter, nicer voice he uses with his sister or other females.
I have teased him about this, but I realised that, in business at least, I do the exact same thing: depending on whether I am speaking to a man or a woman, my tone of voice changes, my turn of phrase, and my level of banter.
It also varies depending on the age and authority of the person I am talking to – but mainly, it has to be said, their gender.
Generally, I take on a more casual tone with women, am more likely to engage in chat and banter, revealing personal information, and be self-deprecating and talk kids.
With men, I am more official, speak in a lower voice, and wait for them to initiate any chat: even if they do, I am less likely to reveal personal info in the name of banter with them.
When I realised this, I found it really interesting. It is completely subconscious, in my case, and I wondered why it was the case.
Do I want to befriend the women, and am I more inclined to try and impress the men, feeling in some way that they may be judging me as a lesser businessperson because I am a woman?
Or am I in fact, looking more for the approval of women, by “letting them in” and being self-deprecating and open about my life?
Does everyone do this? Or is it just me? And with whom are we, in fact, being more genuine? Am I more like the person who talks in a formal, distant way to the males I do business with, or am I more like the cosy, chatty person who natters away to the women I do business with?
Am I trying to speak to them as I would like them to speak to me: women, be my friend, men, keep your distance? Is that really what I want to say?
It’s a strange phenomenon and, much like my partner when he uses his various voices to his various friends, I like to think they reveal a different facet of my nature – not a more sinister peek into how I view my own and the male gender.