Although we aren’t limited to specific communication styles, gender can play a role in our default way of connecting.
Genders communicate differently. I’m sure that if you traveled back through time you would see that through thousands of years, each gender developed their own style and methods of communication.
Genders are wired differently, so it makes sense that we would communicate in different ways. Coupled with our social upbringings and maybe even cultural differences and it’s easy to see why gender communication can be so varied.
WARNING – some of this post will sound a bit stereotypical. I am in no way saying this is the rule, but rather a shortcut I will use to illustrate a point and act as a guideline.
For the most part, a logical communication style is all about dealing with facts and logic. If you are like most men, sometimes you feel the need to not communicate at all as there is really nothing to say.
For many men, the point of communication is to serve an actionable purpose (‘go left’, ‘let’s grab that beam’, ‘I need to eat’) and if there is no purpose then there is no point in communicating.
Mens communication is usually designed to get to the heart of a problem so that it can be solved with as little extra information as possible and we can move on to tackle the next problem. (There is no need to explain why I am tired and have to leave early, I am simply tired and as a result say goodbye).
Given our cultural upbringing, men aren’t encouraged to express their feelings and thus use less descriptive words when they actually do express their feelings. It’s not uncommon for men to say something like “I’m angry at….” or “I’m frustrated by…” and then state what they are going to do about the problem.
Being a man, I know I encompass this communication style, and it really works in a lot of situations especially with other man or when needing to execute or complete a task..
In addition, when I need to talk business with someone, whether they are a potential client or someone who’s helping me in my business, it’s really good to be able to stay focused on what’s important and what’s needed in the moment.
I’m often coming up with solutions to their problems and so this direct way of speaking is a great way to create parameters and target bullseyes.
Having said all of that, it is important to note that as men this isn’t the only communication style that we are stuck with, it’s just the one that happens to be the default.
My wife often says that I use language to create and communicate efficiency while she uses it to create experience.
Emotional communicators come primarily from emotion. In other words, they use communication to express and understand how they feel.
And in some cases, they doesn’t even recognize how they feel until they starts communicating.
If your partner is anything like mine, you have probably had a conversation with her where she started talking about something and then within the span of a few seconds or minutes she started getting angry or upset about what she was talking about.
For her, sometimes she needs to express herself in order to understand how she really feels.
Communication is her way to create intimacy. She needs to connect with you on a verbal level in order to feel close, so in those times when you come home and don’t feel like talking, you are in essence shutting down her attempts at feeling connected.
Because this is not my default way of speaking it can be extremely frustrating at times. However here’s where I’ve found this style to be extremely useful.
- This communication style is a truly beautiful way to understand what you are feeling and what is happening on the inside. A woman’s ability to verbalize her feelings and bring such precision to explaining an emotion that is limited to the english language is incredible. Hearing them speak about how much they love us and how we make them feel is one of the reasons their way of expressing themselves is so attractive.
- This style also allows me to come up with solutions that I never would have thought about previously because I wasn’t sure how I felt about something. There have been many moments with my wife where she’s stopped my thinking and asked me how I’m feeling about a particular problem. In feeling my feelings it provides new insights and actions that I otherwise would not have seen.
Again if you are a woman reading this, the point here is to understand that this is a default style of communication, not one that you are inherently stuck with or that you are incapable of communicating differently.
What Does this Mean for Relationships?
Well as I’m sure you can imagine, no matter how great both of our styles are sometimes these styles can cause friction inside of a relationship. The typical example is when the couple comes home from work after a long day.
The emotional communicator’s first inclination is to talk all about the day and the ups and downs, what bothered them and what was great and then wants to hear about yours which is their way of engaging you in conversation to create intimacy.
For the logical communicator, what they are looking for when they come home from work is completion from the day – they left work at work and so talking about it brings up all the feelings and frustrations that they intentionally left behind when they left the office. All they want to do is sit down and relax together – do something that doesn’t require conversations or re-living the stress of the day.
As a result of this, it’s not uncommon for a couple to get into an argument about this when in reality all both parties are trying to do is get close with one another.
(If you find yourself in an argument and want to diffuse it quickly, read this)
So What’s the Solution Here?
What I’ve found works, is to have each party understand the other’s needs. In other words you need to understand what they need in order to feel connected and they needs to understand yours. Furthermore, it’s not just understanding what each party needs but also when they need it and respond with giving it to them.
For instance, there have been many times where my wife and I will finish work at the same time and instead of me zoning out I might recognize that she’s had a hard day so I’ll take the time to talk to her and listen to how she’s feeling and tell her I’ll take care of dinner while she relaxes.
Other times, I may be in a more depleted state and she knows to give me my space allow for me to have some down time and wait before engaging in conversations
Learning each other’s needs and communications styles will provide a world of generosity and understanding that save a ton of hurt feelings. (This is also a big component to what science tells us creates lasting relationships – see here)
Lastly, the thing that I’ve found makes the most difference is practicing being in both modes of communication. I find that the more you can navigate between both forms of communicating, the better it is for the health of your relationship and the more you are able to grow as a human being. Having a strong understanding and ability with both allows you as you to have other communication options available rather than operating in the default mode of speaking.
Both forms have their uses, so why not learn to master both and use each in the appropriate circumstances in order to maximize the results of your life.
You’ll be glad you did.
Photo: Getty Images