Bruce Bower’s article, “Shared Talking Styles Herald New and Lasting Romance” discusses the theory that romantic relationships are more likely to last between people with similar language styles. The theory suggests that a couple who similarly use words like “I, it, but and under in everyday conversations” (Bower, 2010) are more likely to experience a long and successful relationship.
It seems to make sense that people who get along well have matching language styles, as being able to relate to each other is based, primarily, on the two people’s ability to communicate with one another. Therefore, people who have similar language styles are likely to harbour a communication ability that is superior to those with dissimilar language styles.
When two people communicate, particularly those who know each other well or have recently met but have similar styles of conversation, many messages are understood that sit deeper than the literal meaning of the words being spoken. The order of certain words, along with the stress placed on different parts of the words, or the words themselves, can dramatically affect their meaning; these meanings can be easily missed by people who have differing language styles from the speaker. After all, “the meaning you interpret from a message is always personal and is the result of many factors including your personality and experiences. Communication always occurs in a context, so the meaning of a message often depends on the context of the communication” (Chapter 4.1). In this way, the messages hidden below the surface of verbal communication can often be the ones of the highest importance.
However, just because two people have matching language styles, does not mean they will have a close relationship. As psychologist James Pennebaker mentions, “An interesting irony is that two people who truly hate one another will often exhibit a high amount of language-style matching. Two people locked in a bitter fight tend to talk, or yell, in similar ways (Bower, 2010). Therefore, matching language styles do not necessarily mean that two people should be together as life partners.
The Language Style Matching website contains an online test to determine the level of matching language style two people have, based on entering a piece of writing from each of the two people.
While the website can accurately rate the compatibility of two language styles, based on the presence and frequency of certain words, and how those of the two people balance with each other, it cannot be accurately used as a tool to calculate whether or not the two people have a close relationship. As Pennebaker points out, two people with matching language styles could also hate each other. More importantly, however, is the fact that two people often adopt each other’s language styles, either consciously or subconsciously, as a tool to enable effective and positive communication. This can be a useful tool for people in business or in social matters, and the fact that two people are paying attention to what one another is communicating does not mean that the two people are likely to form a lasting relationship.
Overall, two people who have matching language styles are more likely to get along than two people who do not, as communication is, arguably, the key to a satisfying and lasting relationship. However, tools such as the Language Matching Style website should be used with caution, and valued for what they offer, rather than what their results my infer.
Bower, B. (2010). Shared Talking Styles Herald New and Lasting Romance. US Science
News. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2010/11/22/shared-
Chapter Four: Verbal Elements of Communication. Making Connections: Understanding