Some years back a male friend of mine wanted me to meet his good friend and colleague. The men had known each other for years and were close friends. I decided to cook for the 10 of us and just before guests arrived, my friend said quietly, “Now Michelle, when he arrives tonight, I want you to do something for me. Find out why women love him on sight. It happens ALL the time and we guys can’t figure it out, he’s not great looking, he’s short and let’s face it, he’s nothing special!” I told him to behave himself and help with the preparation!
Five minutes after meeting his friend, I knew INSTANTLY why women fall in love with him, and likely why he attracts male friendship as well. The man LISTENS with an intensity I’ve rarely witnessed. When you speak to him, he looks right into your being, empathizes and the rest of the crowd simply melts away. He gives the speaker his full attention and waits until they decide the conversation is over before reluctantly breaking away.
Seriously now, a woman is already half-way in love with a man that listens to her.
Can it be that simple, you ask? Put down your mobile phone and tune in buddy. Unplug from the electronic world and tune in to your spouse. In general most women need to talk and we want our spouse to listen, really listen.
Generally women like to discuss their feelings when they are upset. Men tend to offer solutions when they hear someone who is upset, however a woman is not looking for a solution, rather she is looking for someone to listen to her and validate her feelings. A man tends to invalidate a woman’s feelings, when he offers a solution without listening to why she feels the way she does.
Men typically only seek advice when they are at a dead-end and need help. Women, on the other hand, tend to offer unsolicited advice to those they love. They try to help the people they love by advising them on how to improve themselves. A man often at times, misinterprets the advice he receives by a woman as though the woman is trying to control and change him.
In John Gray’s book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dr. Gray delves into how men and women cope with stress differently. Men tend to pull away and want isolation as they think about what is bothering them. Women tend to want to discuss their problems. A woman may start asking questions and delving into her man’s problem when she feels as though he’s not himself. The man often times will get annoyed by the woman’s inquiries when he prefers to be alone and deal with his stress by himself. The woman’s inquisition into the man’s problems may prevent the man from dealing with his stress, escalating the situation.
Rapport versus Report
Women want intimacy in conversation, to feel connected to others. Men want to give information while remaining independent of the other party.
Why in some ways this may be stereotyping but in our desire to be understood by others, we must acknowledge that differences exist among us all and specifically between genders in how we communicate. When we can become alert to our differences and work with them, nonjudgmentally, rather than struggle against them, life becomes easier. The blend of male and female styles of communication should give us more leverage in solving problems, growing personally and living life to the fullest.
Coach and Director EMEA Business Development