Why Do Women & Men Communicate So Differently?

Why Do Women & Men Communicate So Differently?

Although not all women and men are exactly the same, there are some basic fundamental qualities that are common to genders which have to do with our brains. The more you understand the inner workings and complexities of the brain the easier it is to grasp why the sexes operate and communicate so differently.

If you haven’t already read my blog titled, “Are You More MALE or FEMALE Brained in your Relationship” I highly recommend you review it. It breaks down the basics of the right and left brain hemispheres which relate to the female and male essence/behaviors, respectively. In this particular blog we’ll be covering some of the major communication differences that often times creates conflict between partners.  

“While brain research confirms that both sides of the brain are involved in nearly every human activity, we do know that the left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order. The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly. Most people seem to have a dominant side. A key word is that our dominance is a preference, not an absolute.” –  Dr. Walter van den Broek, Psychiatrist SOURCE 

 

MALE/FEMALE COMMUNICATION STYLES

We need to accept the fact that men and women are very different creatures. There are many physiological and psychological variables that play a role in our communication styles. The male and female brain are usually focused on different objectives, plus to top it off women’s brains are wired to connect emotions with memories even more strongly. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain related to memory, is twice as big in females compared to males.

“The hippocampus helps to transfer new information to long-term memory.  The hippocampus is sensitive to the female hormone, estrogen, and grows faster and larger in young women. Scientists believe that a larger hippocampus may explain females’ strong social skills.  Females often excel at sizing up social situations, being emotionally supportive, and coordinating complex relationships.”   SOURCE

A woman’s brain is literally wired to juggle several thoughts and emotions at once. This is one of the reasons women can jump back and forth between topics in conversations. Men on the other hand, are more linear, logical and compartmentalized in their communication and thinking. Just listen to a group of women talk and a group of men talk…you will quickly notice the differences. This is why men squirm when they hear “we have to talk”. The barrage of words mixed with emotions, intimidates them and makes them uncomfortable.

This made even more sense after we read, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, a book on language and gender by Deborah Tannen, a professor of sociolinguistics at Georgetown University.

She says, most females engage in “rapport-talk” — a communication style meant to promote social affiliation and emotional connection, a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.

While most men engage in “report-talk” — a style focused on exchanging information with little emotional input. This is primarily a means to preserve independence and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. These differences often result in misunderstandings between men and women.

Women interrupt each other often, because they are usually interjecting relatable commentary, or wanting to give a clear indication of, I “feel/hear” you. Men typically do not interject, nor do they have the innate desire to relate which is why they see interruption as more of an offensive move.

Men are also wired to automatically seek out the most “dominant” during conversation. Even when we aren’t trying to “WIN” a discussion, it’s hard for them to feel otherwise. On the contrary, women want others in conversation to feel equal. Feminine energy caries less of a competitive nature.

This is why it’s important for couples to figure out how to have “SAFE” talks”. In general men need to lower their defenses, get more comfortable connecting with their emotions and share their feelings when talking to women.

On the other hand, women need to learn how to be more concise and direct when talking to men, and try to keep their emotions under control. As you can see, we both have to bend a little. It’s about finding that perfect balance of logic and emotion. Remember, if a women is more LEFT brained and/or a man is more RIGHT brained then their “GO TO” communication style will reflect that. (CLICK to read BLOG: Are You More Male or Female Brained)

 

NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION PITFALLS

All of us are sending confusing, or negative nonverbal signals without even knowing it. We’re all wired to pick up on the non-verbal cues of others in order to detect danger. When we are at odds with someone we’re more likely to read into the following cues:

Body Movements and Posture

Gestures/Facial Expressions

Eye Contact

Touch

Space

Voice

The following is an excerpt from an article about Emotional Awareness:

The way you listen, look, move, and react tells the other person whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, they generate tension, mistrust, and confusion. If you want to become a better communicator, it’s important to become more sensitive not only to the body language and nonverbal cues of others, but also to your own. The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication, or body language, is a powerful tool that can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, and build better relationships.

In order to send accurate nonverbal cues, you need to be aware of your emotions and how they influence you. You also need to be able to recognize the emotions of others and the true feelings behind the cues they are sending. This is where emotional awareness comes in.

Emotional awareness enables you to:

Accurately read other people, including the emotions they’re feeling and the unspoken messages they’re sending.

Create trust in relationships by sending nonverbal signals that match up with your words.

Respond in ways that show others that you understand, notice, and care.

Know if the relationship is meeting your emotional needs, giving you the option to either repair the relationship or move on.”

SOURCE: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/nonverbal-communication.htm

I am becoming more aware of my emotions and how they play into my nonverbal cues. As I continue to pay attention to the signals I send and receive, my ability to communicate effectively improves. I started doing my best to point them out when it happened because I didn’t want my message to get lost in a sea of nonverbal signals.

Personal Example…

I use my hands a lot when I talk, plus I use varying tones in my voice for inflection, and gestures to emphasize what I’m saying. To top it off my passionate side comes through when I speak, especially if I’m talking about something that means a lot to me. When sharing a funny story, my nonverbal signals don’t read as hostile and rude. However in a heated discussion they can, even if I’m not intending to be. My ex, on the other hand, lost all expression in his face (I call it stone face), made little eye contact was silent and usually had his arms crossed. I interpreted those cues as hostile and rude….even though it may not have been be his intention.

Regardless of who is doing what, it’s important to hear how these things make each other feel. Together you can work as a team to create a safe communication environment for one another.  As I learned more about “adult attachment styles” I realized the reasons my ex struggled with this cooperative concept, and why he couldn’t build true emotional intimacy. 

(I highly recommend you check out the SOURCE link provided above for more detailed information on this subject.)

Relationships are not always easy breezy. The goal is to dust yourself off, keep your eye on the prize and keep plugging away at it together as a team, because at the end of the day LOVE is worth it. Sadly, not everyone feels this way and/or is ready to have this type of healthy, balanced relationship. If you need some assistance bridging the communication gap or need help healing unresolved wounds in your relationships don’t hesitate to reach out. CLICK HERE to Schedule Your FREE CONSULTATION. 

1 Comment
  1. I want to compliment you both on this well-written piece. I am constantly wanting to improve my communication skills. I am in a new (8 months) relationship and I am trying to understand how I can better communicate with my wonderful man! I find your advice to be incredibly valuable! Thank you!! And yes, in the end..love is worth it!

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Janie Terrazas The Mindfulness Coach 940-29-LOVEU (56838)
info@janieterrazas.com