I think there is another aspect to the nature of less direct speech styles. I think women (and people with less power) are scared about what happens when they speak assertively. Using a “softer” communication style is an adaptation to existing power dynamics and its not just deference, consideration, or soft influence. We know the rule: Be nice and deferential to stay safe and keep relationships. But that’s not all. Speak up and you’re out of line and people want to hurt you or cut you down.
The news is filled with women who say “no” or “stop” and then suffer greatly, including paying with their lives. So, women get more advice about soft communication: Tell him you have a boyfriend. Say, it’s not you, it’s me. Say, maybe another time. The message comes across to the rest of us – saying “no” or speaking up can be dangerous so it is important to be very careful and soften your message at all costs. Or don’t say anything. It’s a survival skill, sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious. No wonder some people use a style of “softer” and less direct communication at times – lives (jobs, relationships) are at stake.