It begins early. It begins in the brain. The sexes may speak the same language, but they live in different ‘communication towers’. One might say they operate on a different ‘frequency’. That boys tend to play with other boys and girls tend to play with other girls, seems due in large part, because of the differing ways they communicate with and understand each other. The two genders organize their groups with different ‘cultural’ rules and structures. Then ‘they get together’… There’s an inherent difference in male and female brains – which goes a long way in explaining why men and women sometimes feel that they are talking at cross-purposes, when they are in fact talking about the same thing.
In a 2010 study, Zeenat F. Zadi found that, “Due to the larger deep limbic brain women [and girls] are more in touch with their feelings, they are generally better able to express their feelings than men [and boys].” Express their feelings, they most certainly do – women talk 285% more than men in the average day according to Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiarist at University of California, San Francisco. Because of their larger limbic system, women will use more words to make a point and express more feelings along the way. Men will use fewer words and express fewer feelings in an effort to get to the point, in the shortest distance possible. It is argued that there is no right, or wrong culture – anymore than evolution is wrong.
If you’re a guy failing to engage in eye contact during a conversation with your girlfriend or wife, it may lead her, (reasonably in her mind, because it matters – unreasonably in yours, because it doesn’t) to believe that you don’t care what she’s saying, or you’re not listening. Women tend to use facial signals far more than men, so yes, believe it guys – they do ‘listen’ with their eyes, as well as their ears. Therefore, from a cultural-centric point of view – they’ll naturally expect you to ‘listen’ with your eyes as well.
Ladies, men communicate to give information, solve problems, and show expertise. They don’t use facial signals as much, therefore men don’t feel the need to make eye contact to carry on a conversation. Have you ever, as a guy, been in a conversation with your wife or girlfriend and suddenly she has moved on to a different topic? That’s a cultural difference between men and women. What is perfectly logical in the female culture, isn’t always logical in male culture, changing topic mid-stream is like some mind-blowing juxtaposition that overloads the wires and causes a short-circuit in the male brain…a cultural faux pas ladies.
In East European cultures, when delivering a toast it is customary to make eye contact with each and every person at the table. Not to do so is perceived as somewhat tactless, primitive, and possibly insulting. It can unintentionally send the wrong message. Similarly – an unintended message can be sent between men and women based on the erroneous assumption that both grew up in the same ‘culture’. So, those times in your life when you were talking to your beloved and you wondered if you were speaking the same language, or became frustrated by the lack of empathy, the confusion was a result of gender-cultural differences. Not to belittle those differences, they most certainly lead to arguments, strife and potentially divorce. But before it leads to divorce you had to have gotten together…so what went wrong?
Two Stanford University researchers, Dan Jurafsky, a professor of Linguistics and Dan McFarland, a Sociologist, have published a 68 page study titled Social Bonding In Courtship Situations. It was a four-minute interaction in a speed date setting. According to a Stanford news release discussing the research findings, “‘You could say men are self-centered and women are always trying to please men and dates will go well if they talk about the guy, but it turns out that’s just not true. It’s just the opposite,” McFarland said. “This is a situation in life where women have the power, women get to decide. So talking about the empowered party is a sensible strategy toward feeling connected.'” Did you get that – The guy talked about the girl. During the research it was found, somewhat surprisingly, that women liked men who interrupted them to ‘finish’ their expressions with collaborative sentence completions, because it gave the impression that the men were engaging in the conversation and understood the thoughts of the female. In the study men were not using interruption as a means of conversational control or redirection – but as a “means of alignment and understanding.” Do men consciously know why they are engaging in such alignment and understanding? According to Dr Brizendine, “what the male brain may lack in conversation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex. Dr Brizendine says the brain’s “sex processor” – the areas responsible for sexual thoughts – is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind.” Could sex have been on the mind of the male subjects? Was that ‘means of alignment and understanding’ a means to an end? Where does it all go wrong?… I’d suspect that it’s in the failure to understand the differing communication cultures that eventually reemerge.
Here is a funny video that gets the point across about different communication styles, click play have a laugh.