Why do human beings have so much difficulty with simple communication? Well, first of all, communication is anything but simple. People experience life from a unique point of view. We express that different experience differently, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Fortunately, some things we do have in common.
We were all born as the product of our parents actions. We didn’t choose life. It was a gift we didn’t ask for. Created in the image of Our Creator, male and female. We are spiritual beings in physical bodies.
We want to love and to be loved and to enjoy meaningful pursuits.
We all feel angry, sad, hurt, afraid, guilty, ashamed, and joyful. We all get hungry and thirsty. We all get sick at one time or another. And eventually, we all die. What happens in the middle matters. Especially what happens in our relationships with one another. And that’s where it gets interesting.
Because men and women have less in common than either thinks.
Do you believe your mate should think like you do?
- When a man does something that doesn’t make sense to his wife, she thinks he’s wrong.
- When a woman does something that doesn’t make sense to her husband, he gives up.
Because everyone knows that women don’t make sense. Or do they?
By exploring and embracing the differences between men and women, we can see that both sexes make sense. But if the only framework you have to go on is your own, you’re in trouble.
In fact, most men and most women don’t really understand themselves. They just believe it is what it is because it is. Like a fish describing water, it’s all we know. But learning about life on land can help us appreciate life in the water, and vice versa. How cool is that?
Let’s start with a framework for understanding how men and women differ in terms of communication. That’s what gets us all in trouble at one point or another now, isn’t it?
The Ps and Qs of Gender Differences in Communication
Our communication framework includes and understanding of the Ps and Qs of communication: Purpose and Patterns, Quantity and Quality. The things I’m about to share with you fit most men and women. If you believe they don’t fit you, you can use this framework as the starting point for a deeper discussion with the one you love. Sound good? Okay. Let’s dive in and talk about our Ps.
First, men and women start conversations with different purposes.
In general, men tend to use language to relay or collect information in order to solve a problem. Women tend to use language to create connection. And that’s how we start out believing we understand one another.
In the beginning, his purpose was to find out about her so he could decide if she would fit into his life. She smiled as she talked to him, so he assumed she liked him. He didn’t realize she smiled at people who were kind to her. He thought she thought he was all that and a bag of chips.
Her purpose was to create an emotional connection with him. He asked a lot of questions, looked into her eyes, and hung on her every word. He seemed to be interested in who she was, so she assumed they’d made an emotional connection. And she started to plan their wedding.
Neither of those was necessarily true, but it is a caricature of what often happens at the beginning of a relationship. We enjoy the luxury – and the deception – that we’ve been fully understood. And with that we’re off to the races!
What about the patterns?
Well, the purpose has been fulfilled for him. So he feels less need to talk. For her, it’s just beginning, so she wants to talk more. That’s when their communication patterns begin to change.
Except for the courtship period, men and women have developed different patterns of communication. Men prefer side by side. Women prefer face to face.
Once the pursuer, he now relaxes a bit and no longer initiates conversation. He knows what he needs to know. As a woman, she values the back-and-forth, face-to-face of intimate communication. If some is good, she reasons, more is better.
However, he feels attacked when she tries to engage in conversation, especially when she is squarely in front of him. For him, that feels highly confrontational. He’d do better side-by-side, engaged in a shared activity. But she doesn’t know that. So she starts pursuing him, and as a result, they begin to grow further apart. Their patterns, rooted in their gender differences, have fallen into place.
So much for our Ps. Now for our Qs.
The quantity of words we use differs by gender.
Research has shown that women use a bazillion more words each day than men use. It’s true that some men are more talkative than some women. Usually when he is an extrovert, and she is an introvert.
But as a rule, women talk a lot more than men.
Why? Because women use words to create connection.
The more words, the deeper the connection. At least, that’s the implied theory.
In addition, women choose words with different qualities than men do. Women are more likely to choose words that relay emotional meanings. Again, to create connection.
And the same words can hold very different meanings for a man than they do for a woman. Sometimes she takes a word more seriously than he does. And sometimes it’s the other way around.
And that’s why men and women need a complete framework for understanding one another – and themselves. A solid framework, based in biblical truth and the findings of research, will help you develop a deeper understanding of what your mate is trying to communicate.
Our differences run deeper than those I’ve included here. If you’re interested, check out these resources.
And remember, I’m here to help.