In college I took an interesting class about the ways in which men and women communicate that differ so drastically that the potential for disaster is inevitable. I read about a study in which males and females were grouped according to age from 4 years old to 50 years old. Three four year old boys were given little chairs and shown into a room and told to wait. They positioned their chairs facing away from each other. As they interacted, they did so without looking at each other, facing away from one another. The same was true of a group of ten year old boys, twenty year old men, and fifty year old men. For the girls, every single group had positioned their chairs in a circle, facing one another. When the male groups interacted they typically “one-upped” one another, topping each success story casually. In the female groups participants communicated by finding commonality, often agreeing or telling similar stories.
The conductor of the study went on to observe the male-female relationship dynamic. In most instances, the female participant was frustrated that her male partner did not communicate in this sharing manner that she enjoyed with other women. His silence told her that she was not loved or trusted. For the male, communication was something he associated with work: it was an occupational hazard. When he came together with his female partner, he actually felt relief and comfort in not shooting the breeze. To him, his lack of sharing was an indication of love: she was the one he was most comfortable, with whom he did not have to work. *
My point is, that there’s so much room for misinterpretation in the spoken language. I love learning about communication and the drastic differences that hold so much potential for bonding and for real disaster. One of the greatest communication tools today is Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages theory, which examines the ways in which you find meaningful communication. It’s kind of awkward to find that person you really struggle to get to grips with and ask them to take a quick test to see how they communicate, but it’s the most worthwhile activity to help you to understand the building blocks of what could be a great relationship. I guess ultimately it shows commitment and accountability to someone, which is both genuine and admirable.
* I won’t say it’s mandatory that you watch this video from the same year of my birth, but I will say that it’s worth your time.