How Can I Develop Communication Skills For My Partner?

outerspace-thumbnail-1 If you could name the top ten things that bug you the most about men or women, what would they be? Did you know that men and women speak in completely different languages, so much so that we may feel we are speaking to someone from another planet? Yep, it’s true, and here is the proof.

The ability to communicate is the greatest commodity you possess in all relationships, whether personal or business related. Those having excellent communication skills have better relationships, better marriages, raise children to be more functional – and tend to be more successful in their careers. The old saying, “Great communicators are people who change their approach based upon the person they are talking to” couldn’t be more true. Becoming fully aware of the language differences amongst the two sexes will greatly improve your communication with those of the opposite sex, in your home life and in the work place.

Men and women THINK differently
Men and women SPEAK differently
Men and women DECIDE differently

How do men and women think differently?

Men think COMPARTMENTALLY and women think GLOBALLY. Men and women store information and file away data in their cognitive memory banks very differently. Men tend to separate details and store them in different “compartments”, much like a file-cabinet-drawer system, such as (in random order): Work, Hobbies, Wife, Sex, etc.

Cognitively speaking, men tend to open and close “drawers” needed for the immediate moment, staying exclusively in that one compartment, and nothing else even exists except for what is in that compartment. Women, on the other hand, tend to do the complete opposite and connect things up, seeing life more globally. Women see how details and data have underlying and interrelated connections.

Examples of compartmental and global thinking:

Ladies, have you ever called your husband or partner to ask him to pick something up at the grocery store on his way home, only for him to arrive home empty-handed? That’s because he was in the “work” compartment, focusing exclusively on getting the job done, where nothing else exists but his work. Have you ever tried to talk to your husband or partner about something you felt was important while he is focusing his attention on the football game? Doesn’t work out too well, does it?

Men, have you ever gotten into a disagreement with your wife or partner about something, and she brings up stuff that happened months ago? You likely stood there looking at her with the “deer in the headlights” sort of look wondering, What in the world does THAT have anything to do with THIS? Or, how about this: You have a disagreement with your wife or partner in the morning before leaving for work, and later that evening you’re feeling a bit frisky, only to get the “I’ve got a headache” schpeal? That’s because she’s thinking globally, connecting and intertwining details and data as they relate to one another. She’s been simmering and stewing all day long about the disagreement, probably thinking of all the things she intends to say when you arrive home, and now you want to get all lovey-dovey?

Both ways of thinking, compartmental and global, are great ways to think, with their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Put them both together in the same relationship or marriage, and things start getting very interesting, to say the least.

What is happening here cuts straight to the heart of the differences between men and women and how they think and store cognitive data. The man closes the “wife” drawer and goes to work, leaving behind all thought of the disagreement with his wife, opens the “work” drawer and stays completely focused within the framework of his job, to later return home still in the work compartment, to his wife giving him the cold shoulder treatment and angry glances. Worse yet, he arrives home to his upset and frustrated wife, angrily discussing her laundry list of problems she’s had with the children all day long, the moment he walks in the door.

How do men and women speak differently?

Men speak in short phrases with little or no details, whereas women speak in paragraphs, giving lots of story-like details. Men want and need the “bottom line” first, while women want and need details, details, details. That is not to say that men are not interested in getting the details, because they often do want them, but only after getting the bottom line answer to their question. Women enjoy the suspense of working up to the bottom line, for the joy is in the telling of the story. Men, however, experience this enjoyment as agitation, sometimes becoming very frustrated while waiting for the punch line or bottom line to the story. To effectively communicate with someone of the opposite sex, in your personal or career relationships, you must change your approach.

On average, it has been estimated that men speak 12,500 words in a given day and women speak about 25,500 words in a day. Thus comes the old joke about a man going to work and using up 12,495 words and coming home with only five words left! When he arrives home from work he says, “What’s for dinner?” (that’s three) and “Good night” (that’s five!). Men communicate to report facts, while women communicate to build rapport. This mismatch of Report-Talk vs. Rapport-Talk can greatly increase the friction and tension in interpersonal relationships with those of the opposite sex, in our home lives and in the work place. Men, when your wife asks you “How was your day?” and you reply with a simple “Fine” with little or no details, she will be left feeling like “he never tells me anything” or “I have no idea what is going on in his life“.

The differences between men and women go far beyond the obvious. Take for example the matter of eye contact. On average, women maintain direct eye contact while speaking for twelve seconds vs. a man maintaining eye contact for three seconds. Wow! Ladies, think about the last time you carried on a conversation with your husband. You likely maintained direct eye contact with him for several seconds at a time, before looking down or somewhere else in the room, before returning to direct eye contact for several more seconds. What if you were to change your approach by only maintaining direct eye contact with him for a couple of brief seconds, perhaps looking away more often so he doesn’t feel like he’s been placed under a microscope? If you’ve ever experienced the feeling that comes with being stared at by someone for what seems like a very long time, you can then better understand how your husband or partner feels in these situations.

Men, think about the last time you were speaking with your wife or partner. How often did you look away, look down at your feet or back at the television or newspaper, while conversing with her? Is it any wonder then that she thinks you aren’t listening to her? She may even begin to raise the tone and volume of her voice to make sure you are even hearing her speak to you. What if you were to change your approach by increasing the number of seconds you maintain direct eye contact with her, perhaps giving some verbal signals to signify to her that you really are listening, occasionally leaning in towards her and physically touching her during conversation? She will love it! And she will love YOU even more because she will know you are paying close attention to her every word, and won’t feel as though she’s being ignored.


Differences between men and women’s verbal and non-verbal signals-

When speaking amongst each other, women typically will give verbal signals that are often called “listening noises” such as, “Uh Huh“, “Really?”, “Are you kidding me?”, and so on. Women often physically lean in towards the other person, sometimes reaching out to touch the other woman while in the midst of conversation. Women are also known to do things “in packs“, such as when groups of women go to the restroom together at a restaurant, just because one woman in the group suggests it. Men, on the other hand, give more non-verbal signals while communicating with other men, perhaps nodding their head or smiling to signify they are listening. You are much less likely to find a man leaning in towards or reaching out and touching the other man they are conversing with, and you certainly won’t find packs of men heading off to the restroom at the restaurant together like women do. Well, unless, never mind. 😉

How do men and women decide things differently?

Men and women also make decisions about things very differently, such as how each of the sexes go about asking for things they want or need. Remember, speak THEIR language, not your own. Women have been taught since childhood to use “hint language” when asking for something she wants or needs. A woman may say, “Honey, wouldn’t be nice to go see a movie tonight”?, when she really means “I want to go see a movie tonight”. Unfortunately, men often do not get the hint. This is due to the fact that “hint language” is not a part of a man’s language style, since men tend to take language very literally, focusing on the content of the message instead of hidden meanings. Given the question above, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go see a movie tonight”?, a man just might answer with an affirmative “No”, leaving the woman to wonder if her husband or partner even cares about what she wants or needs. Ladies, change your approach, by clearly stating the bottom line of what you want or need instead of dropping hints. Be direct. Women that have learned the art of assertive and respectful communication, without sounding bossy or aggressive, understand that when it comes to communication, delivery is everything.

Take a quick True-or-False “Men and Women Test” to determine how you fare in understanding some differences between men and women, and come back and give your test results.

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