Communicating With Men
Women need not abandon their natural way of communicating in order to relate successfully with men. Men can and do learn to communicate their feelings, usually in the context of a loving relationship. In fact, for many men, a romantic relationship provides a refuge where they are allowed to be intimate, according to Brenda Shoshanna, a psychologist and the author of "Zen and the Art of Falling in Love." However, women must accept the differences in how men communicate. For instance, if a woman only wants a man to provide a sympathetic ear, she should say so at the beginning of the conversation, so that he understands that he is not expected to devise a solution.
One cue women can take from men is to allow themselves time to decompress before taking on a potentially stressful discussion. Men often retreat to calm down after a hard day or when an argument threatens to get out of hand, and this is a good strategy for women as well. This doesn't mean letting important issues slide, but rather allowing both partners to have some breathing room so that they can return to the discussion when they are able to deal with the situation constructively.
In business situations, women should refrain from qualifying their statements, because men often interpret this as lack of conviction in what is being said, or as a sign that the women are seeking approval. Nancy Clark, CEO of WomensMedia, recommends women to direct their comments to a high ranking male present at a meeting, and address him by name. This will command the man's attention to the speaker and what she is saying.
How Men Communicate
Males speak to convey information, and in many instances, conversation is a one-up or one-down competitive arena, according to Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., author of "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation." This is in contrast with how women see the world, as a network of connections, and how they view conversation, as a means of promoting emotional intimacy.
Men speak less than women in general, and convey less emotion in their speech than women. When men talk about sports, business, politics or women they are simply sharing their feelings in code, according to Stephen Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Men's Center of Los Angeles. Men express love through sexual encounters and through gestures they think will please the women they love.
They also tend to be more direct in their verbal communication than women. This is especially evident in business situations, according to Deb Peters, managing principal with Quality Environmental Professionals Inc., an environmental engineering, health and safety firm. "They don't really like chit-chat. When they come to work, they're there to work, not hear about your kids or personal situations. They want you to get to the point," she explained.
The differences in communication between men and women are the result of both nature and nurture. In a paper entitled "Understanding The Difference Between Men And Women," Michael Connor, Psy.D., states that women have four times as many neurons connecting the right and left sides of their brain as men do. Men rely more heavily on their left brain to solve one problem one step at a time and are much less capable of multitasking than women. On the other hand, boys are socialized to repress overt emotional expressions while girls are encouraged to communicate their feelings more openly.