Tips for Communicating with the Opposite Sex

Where did that come from? Tips for better communication with the opposite sex
Here is an article I was recently quoted in written by
Susan H. Burnell, APR*
Imagination Ink - Business Writing & Public Relations

Why is it so difficult for men and women to communicate effectively? Is it just the way we’re wired? By learning about the differences in com¬munication styles, we can move on to more effec¬tive exchanges with fellow students, work colleagues, friends and family members.
“The primary differ¬ence between the genders is that men, in general, are resolvers and women are relaters,” says Certified Corporate Trainer Rosalind Sedacca. “As resolvers, men focus on doing, taking action, find¬ing solutions, getting things done and solving problems. As a result, they are very externally focused.”
“As relaters, women focus on pleasing, com¬municating, making connections, understand¬ing feelings, exploring emotions and being understood,” Sedacca continues. “As a result, they are more introspec¬tive and internally focused.”
The work of acclaimed author Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. sums up these dif¬ferences succinctly, says Sedacca. “Tannen points out that women talk to establish rapport, while men talk to report.”

Competition vs. Empathy
Cognitive behavior therapist Jayme Albin, Ph.D. helps people build awareness of differing communication styles so they can improve their own communication and assertiveness skills.
“Men seek to preserve a sense of hierarchy,” she notes. “That’s why they are more comfortable being outwardly competi¬tive with peers. Women, on the other hand, often will look to align them¬selves with their peers and express empathy by estab¬lishing themselves as equals. This is why women often share related stories with one another during times of despair. It conveys to the other person, ‘I have been in your position before and can relate.’”
In her book Talking from 9 to 5, Tannen expands on her insights into men’s and women’s conversational styles. While she maintains that no one style of speaking is superior, she emphasizes the importance of under¬standing our own styles, and knowing their limits and their alternatives, especially in work situations.
“The key is to acknowl¬edge and under¬stand the differences and expand our own styles to respond in ways appropri¬ate to the situation,” says Madeline Ann Lewis, president and CEO of Deline Institute for Professional Develop¬ment.

Giving him the nod
One distinct difference in styles that can lead to miscommunication is the way women often nod their heads as men talk.
“Women should be certain that they are com¬municating the correct message when they keep nodding to a male speaker,” says Lewis. “He may feel that you are in agreement when you are actually just indicating that you are listening.”
“Women nod their heads as feedback,” adds Certified Speaking Profes¬sional and body language expert Patti Wood, M.A. “For women, a head nod conveys ‘I get what you’re saying, go on.’ Yet a woman may nod whether she agrees with the speaker’s message or not. Men only nod to a speaker when they agree. So a man may become confused or even angry when the woman he’s talking with contradicts or argues with him. His interpretation is ‘She is nodding her head. She thinks I’m brilliant.’ Yet while she is nodding, she may be thinking, ‘I get it. Now finish, so I can disagree!’ So woman have to be careful how about giving ‘I’m listen¬ing’ nods if they disagree with what a man is say¬ing.”
Another conflict occurs when men don’t nod when a woman is talking, says Wood. “The woman may think, ‘That jerk isn’t listening to me. I listen and give him feed¬back all the time.’ Men typically do not give as much nonverbal feedback or even nonverbal utter¬ances like ‘uh huh’ to show they are listening. A woman may accuse a man of not really listening, when he is. And he may become frustrated, won¬dering ‘why she is so demanding?’”
With a little understanding, men and women can learn to anticipate and accommodate one another’s communication styles, and move toward better relationships in all areas of their lives.


You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, by Deborah Tannen (William Morrow, Ballantine)
That’s Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Your Relations With Others, by Deborah Tannen (William Morrow, Ballantine)
Talking from 9 to 5: How Women’s and Men’s Conversational Styles Affect Who Gets Heard, Who Gets Credit, and What Gets Done, by Deborah Tannen (William Morrow, New York)
Leadership and the Sexes, by Michael Gurian with Barbara Annis; (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley, 2008)
Jayme Albin, M.A., Ph.D.:
Madeline Ann
Rosalind Sedacca:
Patti Wood, M.A.: