Have you ever tried to talk to your partner and felt been unsure if they heard a word you said or even noticed you standing there? Chances are your answer is yes. Most of us can remember a time where we felt like we were taking to a brick wall or speaking another language. While we all aren’t speaking a different language, there are fundamental differences in how and why men and women think like they do and communicate.
Research shows that women speak 25,000 words per day while men only speak 12,000. This statistic demonstrates just one way that men and women are so different in how they process information and communicate. A more visual way to discuss the difference between men and women is by comparing their brains to waffles and spaghetti. What? Yes, that’s what I said. Take a look below and I bet you have experienced many if not all of these characteristics within yourself and your partner.
Why men and women think like they do:
Characteristics of Men’s Waffle Brains:
Men process life in boxes or compartments that are all separate from each other and make “holding places” for their thoughts, feelings, ideas, memories, etc. They think by focusing on one box, and usually one box only, at a time. For example, when a typical man is at work – he’s at work; when he is at home – he is at home. When he’s watching TV or involved in a task he’s not using thinking about anything other than what he’s focused on doing.
Most men are problem solvers by nature. You tell them about a problem, they focus on it and get to work formulating a solution. Sometimes this can feel frustrating to their partners if they are looking for a different response – a listening ear, a hug or some encouragement. Despite this being a valid attempt to help, many women describe feeling unheard and dismissed when their partner goes into problem solving mode.
Geared for Success
Men are often motivated by success so they often spend the majority of their time focused in on the “tried and true” boxes that have worked for them in the past and tend to ignore the compartments that confuse them or make them feel vulnerable or weak. This affects how they communicate as well – if they feel like they can talk to their partner and reach a desired solution they are more motivated to communicate; however, if they don’t understand what or why their partner is telling him what she is, they will often shut down.
Thrive on Predictability
Men like to know what to expect and like to know what’s coming next. They tend to stick to the things they know and are good at – he knows these things will make him feel good and feel good about himself. This can be a communication barrier when women tend to think more emotionally and therefore are more “unpredictable.” Men often feel overwhelmed or frustrated in new territory where they are sure what to expect.
Characteristics of Women’s Spaghetti Brains:
See issues and life as a process
Unlike how men think, women’s thoughts are much like a plate of spaghetti – their thoughts intersect with other thoughts and ideas and sometimes seem to even be connected in a way that is generally more difficult for men to follow. Women process life differently with every thought connected to another in some way.
Great at multitasking
A typical woman can do multiple things at one time – talk on the phone, keep an eye on the children, think about a to-do list for tomorrow, wash dishes and keep an eye on the meal she is preparing without breaking a sweat. Women’s thoughts, feelings and ideas are connected and therefore, women are able to process more information and track more things simultaneously.
Need to talk
Women think by connecting life together and thrive on making those connections. Women have a greater need to make sense of things and talk things through. Unlike men, they do not always need a solution but rather through talking can link together her logic, emotions, relational aspects and meaning of an issue. Through discussion, women cann often come to a greater understanding of things and thus reach their “solution” despite it not necessarily being a solution per se. When women do this, it feels overwhelming for men because they are trying to shift gears from box to box and keep up. In the end, she feels better but he usually feels frustrated and overwhelmed.
So what can you do with this information?
In short – understand, acknowledge and communicate. It’s totally okay that we all think differently and not just because we are a different gender but also because we are completely different people who were raised differently and exposed to different influences.
If we are able to understand that our partner has a difficult time focusing on what they are saying while they are involved in another task we can be more accommodating to that. One example might be asking, “Is now a good time to talk?” And in turn, men who are more aware of their tendency to compartmentalize and focus on one thing at a time are more likely to let their partner know they are in the middle of something and ask to talk later. Women who are more aware that their partner feels dismissed when they are multitasking are more likely to make a conscious effort to stop what they are doing and give their undivided attention or, likewise, let their partner know they are in the middle of something or are distracted and ask to talk later. Just make sure you follow up and let your partner know when it’s a good time for you to talk.
Understanding the differences between how men and women think, communicate and connect can feel overwhelming. Stay tuned on our blog series this month that covers those topics. If you’d like more a individualized assessment and support in communicating more clearly with your partner, contact us today to schedule an appointment. You might also enjoy our upcoming Luxe Couple’s Retreat where an entire day is focused on mastering communication skills.