Men and Women Are Different?

vase illusionIt doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that men and women are different, but it looks like we still need a scientist to figure out why.

I am reminded of Deborah Tannen’s book You Just Don’t Understand, which finally illuminated for me why women don’t want a quick solution when they complain about a problem. Woman says, “So and so is really bothering me at work.” Man says, “Just tell them to buzz off.” Tannen’s linguistic examination helped me get that women want commiseration more than they want an easy solution.

Lo and behold, therapists have a name for this -- co-rumination. While women continue to talk their way through problems, men continue to rohrschachuse logic. So the big question is what works best? Not so fast. First, we need scientists to explain the brain to us. Neuropsychiatrists tell us that the female brain is more adept at picking up emotional cues, verbal and nonverbal, faster than men. But the brain learns by repetition, so hashing on negative thoughts over and over can make individuals more anxious and distressed. Some therapists call this emotional contaigion.

So after almost a century of conventional wisdom indicating that talk therapy and excavating one’s past might be the best way to go, more recent science may be offering evidence for the efficiency of a male approach that emphasizes changing behavior and then moving forward -- as fast as you freudcan.

Both men and women can be reluctant to share their problems, but clearly, women are more focused on their inner thoughts and feelings, and find it useful to express these thoughts. Men experience an emotion and almost immediately map out a strategy to respond to solve the problem.

It looks like the ideal response is for a woman to ask a man if he wants to talk about what’s bothering him, and if not give him some space. Likewise, if a woman talks to a man about a problem, he should let her talk it through for a while before proposing a more a more proactive course of action.

For a woman, some additional advice might be to encourage your female friends to go beyond the supportive echo chamber and move to the next stage where they feel comfortable offering suggestions for how to solve the problem.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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