Taking A Look At Gender Communication Differences
It’s well known that women talk much more than men do, by a factor of about four times.
Then again, this is like one of those comprehensive scientific studies that (after perhaps 19 months and $6.7 million) authoritatively concludes, for example, that high-speed car crashes cause more fatalities than slow-speed car crashes. Well, duh!
After all, you’ve probably already figured out that women talk a lot more than we do just from practical, daily experience. No scientific studies are needed. Women always want to talk, especially when you’re watching the big game, the score is tied, and there’s only two minutes left to go.
But why is talking so important to women?
One reason is because that’s the way that women process information. They talk it through.
The different feelings that people experience are each the result of specific chemical compounds that are present at that moment within their brains.
Men’s brains generally have only one such chemical compound present at any given time and thus we’re able to focus very intently on one project at a time.
But women generally have dozens of such chemical compounds present at the same time. This enables women to juggle multiple tasks better than we do, but it also means that women often don’t know exactly what they’re feeling at any one time.
The way that women “process” this conflicting jumble of feelings is to talk their way through them.
If you were to eavesdrop upon two women talking to each other, you’d see this dynamic in action. One woman would be telling the other about her day, in particular about conversations with the various people with whom she has some sort of relationship:
And so on
But it won’t be the abridged version, though. Nope, it will instead be a literal transcript of everything that was said in each conversation she had that day. (This is very similar to the way in which a court reporter can read back the earlier testimony of a particular witness verbatim.)
Meanwhile, the other woman will offer supportive comments from time to time, but that’s mostly to show she’s still listening and not just nodding mechanically as she daydreams about going to the Bahamas with Brad Pitt.
It’s important to understand that the other woman won’t actually solve anything — that’s not her role.
Rather than problem-solving, the other woman’s role is simply:
She isn’t there to advise her friend but rather to empathize with her. This is a very important point and we’ll return to it shortly.
Men don’t have the same mix of conflicting emotions and therefore we’re usually able to think things through without the need to actually talk them through out loud.
Also, because society in general and women in particular evaluate men on our competence, it’s safer for our reputations if we work out our worries privately rather than sharing our problems with others (and thus revealing our own areas of inadequacy).
The downside to this? Since men don’t have that same need to process our emotions verbally, we tend to be clueless as to what to do when women talk about their day.