He Says, She Says

September 23, 2011

A number of scientific and linguistic studies have already arrived at the conclusion that indeed, men and women differ in language use quite interestingly. These differences range from intonation, use, style, and frequency. What causes these differences, and what should be done in response to these variations?

In an MRI scan done by researcher Dr. Tonmoy Sharma, cognitive psychopharmacologist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, results showed that males have fewer brain hot spots for speech functions than women. When men talk, the left hemisphere of their brain lights up in scans. Female linguistic activities, however, were found out to have several areas of functionalities in the brain. This research alone strongly demonstrates why men and women use language differently—it all boils down to the brain makeup. What are these language differences between the opposite sexes that are attributed to innate differences in brain anatomy? The following list is taken from the well-documented and widely known book “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps” by Allan and Barbara Pease, world-famous experts on body language and human communications:

1. Men see the telephone as a communication tool for relaying facts and information to other people, but women see it as a means of bonding. Women talk and talk to connect; men talk to pass on information. That is why women can talk for hours on end over the phone even though the one they’re talking to is their best friend who they have just met for coffee a few hours ago.

2. Men talk silently to themselves to solve problems; women think aloud and verbalise all options and possibilities for a situation. Women’s language centers are scattered all throughout the brain area. These centers light up when verbal activity commences, and these excited neurons cause more brain activity to occur, enabling women’s thoughts to flow more fluidly in order to process problems.

3. The British Medical Association recently reported that women are four times to suffer with jaw problems. That is because women talk more than three times as frequently as men. This does not mean that women are noisy creatures and men are shy ones. It all goes back to the number of language centers that women has in comparison to men.

4. Many times, men carry around problems from work that they often bring home to their wives or partners. When a man is silent upon arriving home, it’s easy for a woman to start feeling uneasy. Have I done something wrong? Did I upset him? Why is he not talking to me? She might ask herself. But truth of the matter lies in the brain—men fall silent when they are attempting to solve something. In the world of women, falling silent on your partner only means one thing—you are upset. Bringing her own perspective into the situation, a woman might misinterpret a silent man as a man who is unhappy.

5. When a woman talks about her problems, her primary goal is to unload the burden of bearing the problem—she just wants to get it out of her system. Talking about her problems allows her to rid her system of stress, therefore leaving her feeling lighter and more able to find solutions to her predicaments. Misunderstandings arise when men, because of their problem-solving nature, assumes that the reason behind the woman’s verbal expression of problems is to look for a solution right then and there. A man then proceeds to enumerate possible solutions and in the process, makes the woman feel that he is not empathising with her.

6. Men process linguistic activity one at a time; women multitask and multitrack. She can read the newspaper, tell the kids to stop playing by the poolside, all the while typing something on her laptop. Women drivers do not find it hard to talk to the other people inside the car while driving at the same time; men, on the other hand, prefer silence inside the car as he concentrates on driving.

7. If a woman is talking to you a lot, she likes you. If she’s not talking to you, you’re in trouble. Since language is a way of forging relationships in the perspective of women, talking means establishing connections. When women are upset, they fall silent, blocking any bonding activity from her system.

8. Women talk emotively; men are literal. At the age of three, girls have three times as many vocabulary words in their arsenal of speech than boys. Women have many different varieties of words and phrases that they use in order to describe people, things, and situations. Men, on the other hand, have the tendency to use exact words to relay their messages straight to the point. “The police officer got mad” for a man may be “He was so enraged that his nostrils flared and his teeth gritted quite audibly” for a woman.

9. Women talk indirectly; men talk direct to the point. A simple “No, that was not cool” for a man may be said by a woman as “It was quite okay…however, I think he should have told her that he will be late. Don’t you think?” This abundance of hedging for women is attributed to women not wanting to use language—her means of establishing relationships—as the reason why she might be misinterpreted as someone who is cutting ties with someone because of negative opinions she made.

These and more differences between men and women often cause misinterpretations and misunderstandings to arise between these two sexes. The key to dealing with these differences is to understand them in the first place. Understanding and accepting that men and women are anatomically predisposed to be different lifts a large burden off the shoulders of each sex in that they start to see that there is no need for misinterpretation at all—men and women talk differently because their brains are wired differently. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.

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