Differences in Male and Female Communication


Do you feel like your partner listens to you? Many people's answer is no. You are not alone.

Research at the University of Texas, Austin found that men and women speak about 16,000 words a day. Women tend to focus on and approach things differently. They also use body language differently.

A lot of couples feel that they are talking, but not feeling they are connecting or on the same page. This article will discuss communication breakdowns that occur between partners. Keep reading to see if some of these issues apply.

Differences in Male and Female Communication

Many relationship difficulties cause partners to feel triggered. Ineffective communication can lead to feelings of anger, hurt, fear, and worry. Dr. Carol Gilligan, a Harvard psychologist states that "men and women may speak different languages that they assume are the same...."

1. Gender Biases

Communication is more than the words spoken. When gender enters the mix, the complication factor rises. Many subcultural beliefs dictate our responses.

Women tend to be more emotional than men. For example, men learn not to cry and the message is "act like a man." Society expects men to behave in a masculine way and discourages exploring their feminine side.

Women have more latitude to explore a "tomboy" phase. However, they naturally still communicate differently. Thus, men and women may have difficulty understanding each other's responses.

2. Nonverbal Communication

Men and women, in general, respond to nonverbal communication differently. Nodding is a nonverbal, conversational behavior in the American culture. Men often nod to show agreement while women nod to show they are listening.

Touch can release oxytocin which helps to create bonds. Some individuals want to be touched while others are more guarded. Women often touch for bonding, comfort, and connection.

While women learn to make eye contact, nod, and respond during a conversation, men may not reciprocate. The woman may believe that he's disinterested or don't care about what she has to say.

3. Men Are Fixers

Men and women have very different communication purposes. When interacting, men strive to "fix things." For men, conversation goals are dominance and tangible results. They place greater value on their end goal and their independence.

Conversation from the male perspective is often more pragmatic. When women share their feelings, men strive to identify and solve the problem.

She may feel misunderstood while the man believes he has fixed the problem. This does not meet the woman's need for comfort and compassion.

4. Women Want to Be Heard

Women use conversations to express ideas, increase social connections, and build relationships. Women want to feel supported, heard, understood and respected.

Women often wish to discuss problems in order to describe how they are feeling. When their partner tells them what to do, they do not feel heard.

The woman often feels that he does not understand or care about her feelings. She just wants to be acknowledged and heard when discussing her concerns and feelings.

Processing Feelings Together

Surprisingly, the majority of problems (or arguments) that couples experience do not demand problem-solving. When talking about issues it's important to put all relevant facts and feelings on the table so you can lay the foundation for working together as a team. When you see the other person's reality and respect each other's point of view, it can prevent pent up frustrations and escalation of arguments.

When communicating and expressing yourself, you want to focus on having discussions where you both feel heard. When issues come up try allowing both to talk and hear so you could discuss problems constructively. When given an opportunity to express yourself, you can feel acknowledged, heard and validated.

In order to bridge and manage the different styles, men and women need to process feelings together as they learn to empathize and hear the other's subjective experiences.

Does Your Relationship Feel Strained?

Many couples have trouble communicating effectively which can trigger arguments. At The Relationship Suite, we provide premarital counseling, marriage counseling and anxiety treatment in New York. We work to help you and your partner develop empathy and compassion for each other as you learn how to communicate more effectively. We help you identify what is causing the negative feelings and the disconnect in your relationship. Our goal is to help you reestablish an intimate and satisfying relationship.

For further inquiries:

Check out Rachel Moheban-Wachtel, LCSW, at www.relationshipsuite.com

Phone: (917) 273-8836