Men engage the world in a hierarchical social order, “one-upmanship”,
whereas, women approach the world as one in a network of connections for intimacy.
Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash
Mark stood at the kitchen counter making his lunch before leaving for work when Diane started talking about her job, again (How Empathy Comes To The Rescue).
“I’ve told her what she could do, but she just talks and talks and talks about the same ‘ol thing. I think she just wants to complain about something, anything. I don’t think she really wants to solve the problem if there really is a problem. I’m so tired of hearing about this. I feel like banging my head against a block wall. I’m getting such a headache. I’m glad I have to leave for work. I just can’t take anymore,” Mark says to himself.
Diane shook her head in disbelief. After trying multiple times to get Mark’s attention to talk to him about a problem she was having at work, she turned and walked away.
“Sometimes talking to him feels like talking to a brick wall,” she said to herself as she threw up her hands and walked out of the room. “Why is it so hard to talk to him when it’s so easy to talk to Jenny about the same subject? I just don’t get it. I’d think he’d be interested after all it does deal with my job and our income. If I lose my job he can’t go back to school, like he wants to do.”
Women, have you ever wondered why when you talk to your husband, significant other, or a man at work, it seems like they aren’t even on the same planet?
I’ve talked to my husband and he gives me a short comment that makes me wonder where he is or how his comment even applies to what I said. It’s amazing!!
Yes, he appears to be listening, giving me the nods, the listening comments, “yeah”, “hum”, but when he paraphrases what I said he gives me a couple of words that maybe are “somewhat” related.
Other times I get the first sentence out and I instantly get a solution, a fix, for my situation when I didn’t want him to fix anything. I really needed him to listen. I needed to be heard and understood. How could he possibly understand when he didn’t wait long enough or listen to what I had to say.
The experts say this is a common problem with communication between men and women.
Remember the book that came out years ago, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” maybe John Gray had it right. Men and women do come at communication and situations very differently.
Deborah Tannen, author of “You Just Don’t Understand”, state that men and women are on different wavelengths and communications is a “dance.”
Some have stated the difference comes from different socialization. Tannen states that the differences in communication styles go beyond socialization and appear to be an inherent difference in the basic makeup of each sex. Studies have shown that at an early age, boys and girls communicate differently.
A video study was made of boys and girls in communication settings – boys with boys and girls with girls. They were put in a room where they could arrange the room and initiate the topics. The boys appeared to be extremely uncomfortable, whereas the girls immediately began talking.
The boys arrange the chairs so they sat parallel to each other and jumped from topic to topic centered around a time when they could all get together and do something. For boys, doing things together is important. Boys do not sit and talk.
Male communication is a way to negotiate their status in the group. They talk to preserve their independence and avoid being pushed around by others in the group.
The girls arranged their chairs in a circle so everyone could be seen. They eventually ended up discussing the problem of one of the girls arriving at a solution.
Female communication, on the other hand, is a way to negotiate closeness and intimacy. To women, talking is the currency of intimacy – best friends sit and talk. Talking about problems is the way to connect.
When men hear “troubles” or “problems” they shift into “fix-it mode”. They respond with a solution. On the other hand, women create feelings of closeness by conversing with friends and lovers about problems. Men have problems figuring out why women have to talk all the time. Eventually, men just tune them out.
Tannen states that men are confused by the various ways women use conversation to create intimacy. Men state that women complain all the time about their problems and troubles, but don’t actually want to solve the problem. Men just don’t understand the ritual nature of women’s “complaining.”
Yet, statists show that men actually talk more than women. It’s just a different type of communication style.
Image by Geralt from Pixabay
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive
the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
– Tony Robbins
Diane, worried about her job because she missed the initial presentation due to her car accident and wanted to talk to Mark about her concerns.
Mark, on the other hand, wanted to help her solved the problem by giving her some tools that would help her get “a leg-up” on the other developers. Since he was also a developer, only in a different field, he gave her some websites she could check out for more information that wasn’t given to them by her boss.
Mark pulled himself together before he had to walk out the door. “Diane, here’s a list of websites that I put together that might give you some extra information about how to create the app you’re working on,” he said handing her a list of sites.
She took the list, briefly looking at it, and laid it on the table, “I’ve been through most of those sites. There’s some good information on them, but that’s not my problem,” she answered.
“Then what is your problem,” Mark said with voice elevated a notch. “I just don’t get it. You’ve talked about this project for days like you can’t figure it out. I am so lost. I really don’t know what you want from me.”
“You don’t know what I want,” Diane said just short of yelling. “You don’t know what I want. How could you not know what I want?”
“Tell me again,” he said looking at his watch. “I have to go in just a few minutes.”
“I need you to listen to me and understand what I am saying. I don’t need you to fix it for me,” she said in total desperation.
“I’ve listened. I went through all of our documentation at work to give you extra information. I’ve heard you say, you don’t want to get fired because of this project. What don’t I understand?” Mark said in a raised voice. “I just don’t get it. What is it you need that I haven’t given you?”
Diane took a deep breath and dropped her head to look at the floor. “I need you to put your arms around me and tell me it’ll be alright. I need you to hold me for a minute. I need to feel you understand.”
Mark paused for a few seconds, putting his lunch on the counter. He looked at her as though he were really seeing her for the first time. His face softened as he reached out and drew her into a hug, holding her tight. “It’s going to be okay. You’re very smart. You’ve got this,” he said while planting kisses on her face and neck.
After a little while, she pulled away taking a deep breath. A soft smile replaced the furrowed brow and downturned mouth that had been on her face, only moments before.
“That’s it? That’s all you need?” he questioned as he picked up his lunch.
Slowly nodding her head, she quietly said, “Thank you.”
“Baby, you are so welcome,” he said.
“Wow, that’s really good to know,” he said to himself as he headed for the door.