Communicating-the difference between men and women

It’s often assumed that men are rational and women are emotional. This is too simplistic, suggests psychologist Jacqueline Gunn. In fact, some men are expressive and emotional (as women are commonly thought to be), and some women are less emotional and more guided by rationality (as men are assumed to be).

Women connect through conversation, while men connection through action according to psychotherapist, Barton Goldsmith.

“When a woman wants to talk, she wants to share emotions and thoughts, while a man generally shares ideas, suggestions and facts and avoids talking about feelings. That doesn’t mean that a man won’t talk about his feelings, but he might be uncomfortable while doing so” says Goldsmith.

It seems that women use plenty of non-verbal communication such as hand movements, gesturing, eye-contact, eye-brow raising or other facial expressions. A man often prefers to keep the body language and facial expressions more contained. “Men prefer to sit more quietly focusing on what is being said, whereas a woman often punctuates conversations with her affirmations such as “ok” or “uh-huh” so you know she is listening” says Susan Sherwood PhD.

Does this all sound familiar? I bet it does. From a survey-of-one, I tend to talk and present with hand gestures quite naturally. I’m not sure why…but when I saw myself on video, I was astounded at how much hand gesturing I use. Often male colleagues seem quite the opposite. And while we are on the topic of communication, I will also confess that I am not the ‘listener’ I should be. Listening is a crucial skill in improving our empathy and decision-making. Whether men or women are good listeners is debatable but as our lives change and grow, we can all embrace better listening skills.

Listening and Hearing are different but the same applies for both men and women.

Most of us are guilty of saying we are listening but we aren’t really hearing what others are saying. Whether an office meeting or with your family and friends, it is easy to tune-out and nod your head as if you are engaged. As Jacqueline Gunn says “When it comes to communication skills, listening to someone isn’t enough: we must hear them. This means we must listen with openness and receptivity, with an understanding that we all express ourselves differently.”

Psychology Today suggests there are 3 behaviors required to become a better listener:

  1. Be respectful, dont jump in. Listen and ask respectful questions.
  2. Talk less than you listen. Suppress your urge to speak more and practice patience.
  3. Challenge assumptions. Seek to understand more.

Communication behaviours between men and women can be complicated especially as we age but, starting with listening a bit more is worth the effort.