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Some researchers believe that different styles of communication are developed by nurturing, not nature. That communication styles are learned through the way someone has been raised, not by how a person is wired from birth. Take a newborn girl and put her in a room with family members all about. She will look at every one around and make eye contact with each of them. Put a newborn boy in a room surrounded by family members, and he will pay more attention to the light fixture or a ceiling fan. I know this to be true with my own children as well as with my grandchildren.
When our first grandson was born it was after having several granddaughters. The first time I held him I was taken back a bit because I couldn’t get him to make eye contact with me. I was starting to get concerned that maybe he was Autistic, but then I remembered, he was a boy. This behavior difference between male and female is carried with them throughout their childhood and into adulthood. “In one study, researchers performed a series of test on males and females from four age groups: second graders, sixth graders, tenth graders, and twenty five-year-olds.
Instructions for each pair of females and each pair of males were exactly the same: enter a room, sit down on two chairs, and talk, if you wish. As the test proceeded, every pair of females, no matter what their ages, reacted the same way. They turned their chairs toward each other, or at least they turned toward each other, so they could be face-to-face, lean forward and talk. The males reacted differently. They did not turn toward each other in any way. They sat side by side, shoulder to shoulder, looking straight ahead except for an occasional glance at each other” (Eggerich, 244).
Girls want to make a connection with the person they’re talking to. They want to make friends, share secrets, and experiences. Boys have a different approach. They like having buddy groups focusing on activities rather than conversation. This difference in communication style follows them into adulthood. Women communicate through dialogue, discussing emotions, choices and problems. Males remain action-oriented. The goal of communication is to achieve something.
Women are more relationship-oriented and are more likely to talk to other women when they have a problem or need to make a decision. Men tend to relate to other men on a one-to-one basis. They keep their problems to themselves and don’t see the point in sharing personal issues. Why is communication between men and women such a problem? It goes back to the fact that we send each other messages in “code,” based on gender, even though we don’t intend to. “What I say is not what you hear, and what you think you heard is not what I meant at all” (Eggerich, 30).
A woman may say, “I have nothing to wear. ” What she means is, she has nothing new. When a man says, “I have nothing to wear. ” He actually means he has nothing clean. This illustrates that we all see things out of our own needs and perceptions. How does nonverbal communication impact male and female communication? One specific aspect of nonverbal communication is body orientation. It’s the two chairs in the room experiment again. When a man doesn’t make eye contact or face his female conversational partner, she may see this as a lack of interest.
He might get annoyed because she isn’t responding the way he expected. Body language speaks volumes when communicating with someone of the opposite sex. The difference in physical alignment can make having a meaningful conversation difficult. A breakdown in nonverbal communication between men and women can cause problems not only at home, but in the workplace. Women often nod their head when someone is talking to them as a sign that they’re listening. This can be confusing for a man because men only nod when they are in agreement with what is being said.
The man might mistake the woman’s nodding as a sign that she agrees with him, only to find out later that she doesn’t. Now the woman is confused because she doesn’t understand why he would think she agreed when she was never asked her opinion. On the other hand, if a woman is speaking and she doesn’t see his head nod, she assumes he either disagrees or is not listening. Either way, the lines of communication are broken because of nonverbal cues (Simma). As you can see, men and women have different styles in the way they communicate.
Neither style is right or wrong, they’re just different. I’m not really in to the whole Mars vs. Venus thing, but if we can recognize the differences in our communication styles we might be better equipped to break through those communication barriers. Women, a man doesn’t necessarily want to talk about it, sometimes just sitting next to him or watching him tinker in the garage is just what he’s looking for. He just wants to know that his lady is there. Men, a woman just needs someone to listen to what she has to say.
She doesn’t need her situation to be fixed, she just needs a listening ear, an occasion nodding of the head to let her connect with her man. My husband and I sometimes go on long drives for an hour or so without ever speaking a word, we don’t have to. We’ve had our ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but through the years we have learned to speak and listen to each other’s language. The key to a any relationship, whether it’s with friends, colleagues or spouses is good communication skills. My husband and I have been married for 33 years, I think we’ve been successful in achieving just that.