Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Communication Differences Between The Genders

Not only are men from Mars and women from Venus, men and women perceive and receive information and experiences in very different manners. Not being aware of the inherent nature of the opposite sex is at the crux of many misunderstandings that can spiral out of control and end in the dissolution of a relationship.

The following are gross generalizations and should not be regarded as negative or positive statements about either gender. It is simply the way they see the world in different ways, which is neither better nor worse than the other. In fact, the brains of men and women are different too. Men have more gray matter, which means they see life as simpler -- more black and white and more self-centered. Women, on the other hand, have more white matter, which makes them more complex and empathetic. What this means is that when confronted with an issue, men may ask, "How will this affect me?" and women may ask, "How will this affect me, my mate, my children, my job, etc.?"

Let's examine some other core differences.

1. Men are neither subtle nor do they understand subtlety well. When a woman thinks she is conveying her needs or feelings by her actions (and sometimes couched words), it is usually going right over the man's head. Men speak directly, so if women want to communicate with a clear message, they must also be direct or the man just won't get it.  Conversely, when speaking to other women, she may speak indirectly for fear of hurting another woman's feelings. This woman will still "get it" even though the statements will not be overt.

2. Men tend to focus on what is important to them. They look to quickly find solutions to problems and they want to solve their mate's problems too. They are hardwired to see this as part of their job of being a man. A woman, on the other hand, will worry over an issue and mull over it many times while asking for the opinions of others before taking decisive action.

3. A man can be more single-minded than a woman. He keeps extraneous information out, while a woman has difficulty ignoring (and caring about) all that surrounds her. This is made clear when you see a woman multi-tasking in the home and at work. She is able to have many "pots" on the stove at the same time. A man, however, hones his focus on one "pot" at a time. He finishes the first pot before moving onto the next.

4. In situations, men usually contract while women expand -- that is, women tend to look to reach out and connect with others while the man can remain an island onto himself. What this means for a romantic relationship is that women can easily lose themselves as they try to please everyone else. Additionally, a man may expand when he is looking for a mate, but once he "has" her then he contracts back to his original stance. This is the reason why many women feel ignored once the chase is over and the man has captured his prize.

5. Men like action, and women like words. The statement uttered by many a woman, "We need to talk" strikes fear in the hearts of men. If you are feeling unloved or neglected because your man is not interested in lengthy conversations about feelings, take a look at his actions towards you. When it comes to men, actions most certainly speak louder than words. If he goes to work each day to provide for his family and then comes home and helps around the house or washes your car each week or mows the lawn each Saturday, etc, these are all actions that say I love you. When you think about it, wouldn't you rather be shown how much you are loved vs just being the recipient of lip service with an I love you uttered that has no concrete actions to back it up? Consider that thought before you complain that your mate never says I love you.

6. Men talk in statements and women talk in questions, or, in other words, men report while women attempt to establish rapport and elicit a response. When a woman speaks in questions, for example, "Do you like this great new dress I bought?" vs "I bought a great new dress today", the man assumes the woman is looking for a decision from him or needs him to solve an issue. And men like to solve problems! In truth, the woman is simply looking for feedback or to make conversation with her mate. However, if she receives a negative comment, her feelings are hurt and she becomes angry. The man is totally confused because he thought he was being asked to help. Obviously, this is a very simple example, but going forward listen to yourself when you speak to your man. Are you making statements or asking questions? If you are not getting the response you want, change your technique.

The aforementioned are just a few of the differences in gender communication. Keeping these in mind and working on discovering ways to be accurately heard by the opposite sex can make a relationship run more smoothly and without discordance. 

The ideas and information presented above are based upon a lecture by Cinthia Hiett, M.C., L.P.C., a highly recognized relationship and life management expert.

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