by Mary Anne Kress
Men and women see the world through different lenses. Both sexes process information and arrive at conclusions via very different paths. Problem solving for men is a rush to the finish line. For women, problem solving is exploring all the aspects of the problem, discussing underlying concerns then cautiously moving toward a plan of action.
Knowing the inherent differences in communication between the sexes, can help you avoid the landmines of problem solving together and make for smoother, more effective communication:
The Purpose of Talking. Men see every conversation as a problem that needs to be solved. The goal is to get to the root of the issue as fast as possible. Women use communication as a way to process emotions. The goal is intimacy through sharing.
The Amount of Talking. Men tell a story as efficiently as possible, only sharing details essential to the point. Women use story telling as a way to explore and organize their thoughts.
The Purpose of Listening. Men listen, actively filtering the conversation to hone in on what can be done to solve the problem. Women deem conversation productive whether or not a solution is reached as long as she feels she was heard and understood.
The Amount of Listening. A man will often interrupt a woman once he has heard enough to offer a solution. This can frustrate the women making her feel her problem is being minimized. A woman can be patient and listen passively for as long as a man chooses to open up. She doesn’t feel pressured to offer a solution. She believes listening equips him with the emotional tools needed to handle the problem.
Communication and problem solving between the sexes is truly an art form. Knowledge of the differences in each gender's style can make shared decision making a more pleasant and less volatile situation.