A Man of Few Words

November 10, 2014

in Uncategorized

Hummingbirds at feeder © Centpacrr at English Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

My wife tells the story of going with me to a hardware store I had never been in before. I walked in and said to a male employee, “screw eyes”. He answered “Aisle 5”. That was the entire “conversation”.

Lori says a female customer would have said, “I need to hang a humming-bird feeder, and I’m looking for a decorative screw eye…” She also told me a female employee might have found my approach a bit rude.

Neither method of obtaining the location of the screw eyes is wrong, nor is one inherently better. However, gender differences mean my request is best suited for two men. Most women want (need?) more than the raw facts when they communicate. For women communication is not just about sharing information, it is usually also about relationship. For men communication is about exchanging needed information, and efficiency is often prized.

Two applications:

  1. When your husband gives you limited words, possibly less than a proper sentence, he is not trying to show disrespect. He probably does the same with men all the time. He may have no idea it bothers you, and if he does know he likely does not understand why.
  2. When you give him large amounts of information, he may feel flooded and get lost trying to find the information he needs in your many words. He may miss the point altogether if what you want him to know is near the end of what you say.

The two of you communicate in different ways. Neither is wrong, but neither works well for the other. If you each move a bit towards the communication style of the other, you can avoid all manner of problems.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I have learned not to use one word sentences with my wife!

Can I get you to take a few moments to do a survey? Too Cold for Sex? asks men and women if cold temperatures affects their sex lives.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr Richard Norris November 10, 2014 at 1:58 am

Paul, I can relate. I am Mr Task so it’s all about getting it done as effectively and efficiently as possible. However, I have learned that when conversing with my wife particularly I need to listen, seek understanding and engage more openly (and where necessary justify). She does say I can be too direct. I have to work on buffering my message with more words.

FYI from a socioathropological perspective, men tend to use only 15,000 words per day and women 25,000. Small wonder at the end of the day the best us guys can give is a grunt or monosyllable. We’ve exhausted our supply. Small wonder guys at the end of the day our ladies can still talk…they have more to go.
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Paul Byerly November 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

“Too direct” – who even knew that was a thing?

My wife and I are reversed on number of words – I have far more than she does. This means we both a some understanding and sympathy for the opposite sex.

BTW, had not read your latest post till I saw the link here. Great thoughts. Also funny to me because I almost used the image you chose recently.

To the ladies, if you want to point your husband to a great blog, I recommend Richard’s.
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Dan November 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

Excellent example and so true. I have a strong female side to me and my dad and I would have the hardest time talking. My mother says “If you ask Dan the time, he will tell you how to build a watch.” I always enjoy talking to women more than men for that reason unless the men have a strong feminine side too.
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Paul Byerly November 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

As I said above, I have a lot of words. I suspect that is why I had so many close female friends from puberty on.
I have learned to tone it down when I am with most men, but it is nice to have male friends who have plenty of words of their own.
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IntimacySeeker November 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

My spouse and I each have times when we are long-winded and when we cut to the chase. We have learned to view our abrupt responses with humor–we would make a great sit-com sometimes. Like if I say I thought about him all day and have been longing for his touch, and he replies that he got the oil changed. :)

It also helps to recognize the times and circumstances under which we are able to have those more detailed conversations. For me, an early riser and “morning person”, to discuss an important issue and arrive at a decision in the evening after a long day at work won’t go smoothly. So I have learned to say, “honey, I’m too tired to process this right now, could we talk about it tomorrow morning?”

I have also learned that even if I feel tired and don’t want to hear about his day (he works in solitude most of the day and I work in an office with other people), with a bit of effort I can take genuine interest and “hear” him. Even when the tendency is to tune him out, I can choose to tune him in.

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Paul Byerly November 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Nice! Can I quote your last bit over on TGH?
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IntimacySeeker November 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Absolutely.

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Jerry Stumpf November 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Communication is such a tedious process. When women and men speak in their “native” fashion, they are very frustrated. Communication must be on our hearts Paul.

This fits well with my article Why Doesn’t He Just Listen? http://wp.me/p50Bqq-2z

Have a great day.

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KT November 11, 2014 at 8:58 am

This is another area my husband and I are reversed from the stereotype! During the summer my husband needed a part to fix our well, he called the guy at the the hardware store and I overheard him telling the guy every single detal about how our water was out, how we discovered our water being out, details about the well, where we live, (general area not specific location). The guy finally had to tell him he needed to get back to work. I was wondering if the guy was going to be hiding in the back when my husband came to pick up the part! He does however have male friends he can go in and on with.

We’re always the last to leave anywhere cause my husband is wrapped up in conversation.

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Paul Byerly November 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

I suspect there are more out of gender examples of this one than many other things with more or less fall along gender lines. Many other things play into this – an introversion vs extroversion, being shy (which is not the same as being an introvert), how comfortable we are in our own skin, and so on.
I am a moderate extrovert, I have never been shy (or shy about my opinions) and I am very comfortable in my own skin. Add in a way to busy mind, and being full of words and feeling a need to share them is a given.
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Evan November 15, 2014 at 8:32 am

I suspect it’s easy to confuse “many words” with “inefficient communication.” At first glance, I might be mistaken for having “feminine” communication needs. I like a lot of words. But I generally want facts, not extra narrative. I just like having lots of facts to work with. So there’s that.

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Paul Byerly November 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Too little information can certainly be a problem too!
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