The number one most common complaint I hear from men and women in couples therapy is that they are having difficulties with communication and want to communicate better with each other. In fact, I can’t remember any couples therapy I have ever done with a couple that did not include some version of this same goal. In this article I will review some of the main common differences in the primary gendered ways and purposes (but not the only ways and purposes) men and women communicate, along with some suggestions to help bridge the gap and communicate better with each other. Knowledge is power and this knowledge can greatly help you not just when dealing with a dating partner, but whenever you are dealing with a member of the opposite sex.
In interpersonal communications, the primary purposes that women communicate are to facilitate connections, to heal, to grieve, and to make meaning out of life. This external processing (opening up verbally and sharing out loud with another) serves to identify, clarify, work through, and vent emotions as a coping mechanism. Often women are fully learning specifically how they feel and why they feel that way at the same time as the listener as it all comes out. When emotions combine and multiply inside of a woman, this talking out loud supports their goal of better grappling with and handling whatever feelings reside inside.
*Suggestions for men listening to women: given the purposes listed above for why women will primarily communicate, the primary response from the man’s end that usually works best is to be in the role of good listener. Listening well generally includes responding with interest, patience, validation, empathy, and understanding. Offering appropriate questions and giving positive tracking with good facial cues and eye contact helps as well. Furthermore, what doesn’t work as well and is not recommended is the following: interrupting, giving unsolicited advice, arguing, blaming, invalidating, or otherwise acting impatient or disinterested.
For more ideas on quality listening, see: https://www.ldsdimension.com/articles/listening-skills-14/.
Conversely, in interpersonal communications, the primary purposes that men communicate are to share the end result of what they have decided or concluded about a problem, ideas or steps on how they would like to fix a problem, and/or to share topics on their journey to establish power, efficiency, achievement, results, goals, and proving competency. Feelings are usually wrestled with privately for the most part and are handled. Independently. Such feeling are generally either not talked about or usually just the end of the feelings and situation are shared. The most likely feeling that will be expressed is some vented anger, frustration, or irritation. But otherwise, the goal of male communication is largely focused on the tasks at hand--or in having some fun or relaxation away from the tasks at hand.
*Suggestions for women listening to men: given the main purposes and reasons men primarily communicate, women have several options for listening and responding. Taking the same listening approach suggested for men to use with women can be employed (see previous ideas). But other listening responses can also work and be incorporated as well, including your active interest and participation in helping fix, address, or resolve an issue. In addition, you may consider finding opportunities to demonstrate acceptance and trust to what he is saying and what/how he is trying to wrestle with. The main thing is to not respond with anything sounding like criticism, mocking, or put downs that effect his sense of competence, efficiency, and effectiveness. In addition, asking questions will be received better than giving unsolicited advice.
Book Suggestions to Understand Gendered Communication:
You Just Don’t Understand!
That’s Not What I Meant!
(both by Deborah Tannen)
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
by John Gray
I suggest that you take some time to learn about the different communication styles and purposes of the opposite sex, and then work to incorporate some of the ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations given about them. The main thing is to understand, respect, and work with these differences versus fighting against it or expecting the opposite sex to communicate like you. That does not work and will just make things worse. Men and women in communication are largely like cats and dogs—different animals that need to be treated accordingly. A dog will never be a cat and a cat will never be a dog. So just learn about the other animal and treat them as needed. Such knowledge and communication adjustments will serve you well in nurturing a healthy future relationship. Approach the opposite gender accordingly and the good results will follow. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.”
P.S. If you can questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|2020-03-16||Randy Gilchrist||Understanding men, Understanding women, Communication|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).