What Makes the Genders so Different
Studies have demonstrated that men and women process thought and communicate differently, supporting the age-old ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ saying. In contrast to their male counterparts, women are professionals at multi-tasking. They can jot down notes on what groceries to buy for dinner, plan the evening meal, remember to pick up the kids after school and get them to their sport, pay their due accounts, manage to accomplish loads of washing and laundry while checking in on their friends or speaking to their mother over the phone. By comparison, men think unilaterally, that is to say, that they progress from one thought process to another, usually flipping between subjects related to Sex or Sports, then back to Sex. As such, it can come as little surprise to learn that heterosexual couples often have heated debates that turn into arguments when women try to resolve matters by talking through them. They often discuss multiple areas of dispute at once and men respond by shutting down because they feel overwhelmed by the discussion at hand and the amount of dialectal involved.
Communication can be Improved
Communication can improve, and relationships can run smoother if both men and women understand and appreciate the differences in the ways both genders complete their thought processes and communicate.
A series of experiments conducted by Stoet, O’Connor, Conner, Laws, (2013) confirms the wide-held belief that women outdo men when it comes to multi-tasking. Interestingly, women and men achieved similar scores when asked to simultaneously solve mathematics problems, look up restaurants on a map, and answer general knowledge questions. The experiment highlighted, however, that women scored significantly higher results when compared to men when they were asked to devise strategies for retrieving a lost key. It was concluded that women outperform men at multi-tasking. That being said, Stoet et al. (2013), established that women do more chores than men, which leads to considerable bitterness and arguments in many relationships. In light of this information, the question is justifiable: why is it that the women can do the laundry, cook dinner and wash the floors, supervise the children and organise the home, after a hard day’s work when their boyfriends or husbands would rather just sit on the couch and watch television or play computer games?
Is this gender difference in communication part of the nature-versus-nurture debate, or is this attributable to social roles that are ascribed to men and women, even in modern-day society?
A report published by Szameitat, Hamaida, TulleySaylik, Otermans, (2015) suggests that the gender difference tendency is a consequence of habit. Women tend to juggle household chores, their career and child-rearing because they have historically taken on such jobs and have perfected them over time. Women have many responsibilities thrust upon them and have no viable option than to try to accomplish each task, two or three at a time. Women perform these additional jobs and do so efficiently cementing their abilities to not only themselves but also their male partners.
As such, it is easy to understand why men and women have difficulty in resolving issues. They often sit down at the table, hoping to achieve some kind of resolution to a disagreement, only to leave it in frustration because neither party has acknowledged the problem, discussed the issue as each need to discuss, or come to any firm solution.
Why do men and women have so much trouble in communicating with one another?
The question is deceptively simple. According to Karina Merchant (2012), women are more emotional, timid, and polite in conversation, while men are more assertive, and autocratic.
Sociolinguist Deborah Tannen (1990) an expert on male-female forms of communication, believes that our biological make-up is responsible for the way in which we communicate, or fail to. Unlike men, women love to talk; it is their openness to frank discussions that allows them to grow a bond of intimacy. By comparison, men feel overwhelmed by the issues that are raised and eventually tune out of the conversation. Men simply do not talk when feeling overwhelmed with multiple facets of a discussion, or if they talk do it is in order to find a clear, concise and effective solution to the problem. It is imperative both partners feel safe and secure to communicate openly and effectively.
Both men and women would benefit from understanding these different approaches.
Clearly, Men and Women Think Differently
Simply, men can think or discuss only two or three things at once; they usually process slower than their female counterpart. Women can process faster and often between seven to nine things at once. While women often complain their male partner is unable to communicate, men can communicate very well. Men require the safety and time to discuss an issue. Once they become overwhelmed with numerous issues, they shut-down due to their processing limit, not their lack of communication ability.
Communication is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship. Both genders perform communication tasks very differently. As such, heated arguments ensue. Couples would profit by grasping these differences, appreciating them, and moving on with their lives better prepared.
Couples need to discuss one point of discord at a time. Focus on the solution they want to achieve prior to speaking and less on the actual issue at hand. Once a solution can be prioritised then both partners can move toward resolving the issue. Short, succinct and direct communication is best if a resolution is to be found. Providing a safe environment to discuss any matter is equally necessary. A safe environment of calm, withholding derogatory comments or telling someone their feelings or perceptions are wrong provides this safety and permits each person to disclose their thoughts and feelings to each other.
Once these differences are understood, communication can open, and resolutions can be achieved.
Merchant, K. (2012). How Men and Women Differ: Gender Differences in Communication Styles, Influence Tactics, and Leadership Styles. CMC Senior Thesis, Paper 513.
Stoet, G., O’Connor, B., Conner, M., Laws, K., (2013). Are women better than men at multi-tasking? BMC Psychology 1 (18).
Szameitat, A., Hamaida, Y., Tulley, R., Saylik, R., Otermans, P., (2015). “Women are Better than Men”-Public Beliefs on Gender Differences and Other Aspects in Multitasking.
Tannen, D. (1990). You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company.
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