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Why Can't A Man Be More Like A Woman?
by Connie Merritt

Professor Henry Higgins sang, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" in My Fair Lady. He obviously didn't have the benefit of today's research or he would have known why she can't and what she really wants.

Different Brain Wiring
Picture a man and woman in a meeting, they're leaning toward each other, talking, nodding, laughing. They're on the same wavelength, right? Not necessarily. She might be thinking, "He so good at small talk" while he's proud of himself thinking, "I love our deep conversations." Volumes have been written on the differences between men and women--their brains, their thought patterns, their verbal organization.

Deborah Tannen author of You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, explained that women's conversation is about building rapport, connections and similarities and men talk to solve problems and finding solutions. Does this explain why you were so frustrated when you needed a little empathy and got some advice instead?

The subject of sex differences in the brain attracts almost as much inflammatory rhetoric as darwinism or IQ. Anne Moir and David Jessel reported the birth and evolution of these differences from a scientific research standpoint in Brain Sex. They summarized that what gives us a male or female brain is society's expectations augmenting our genes and the concentration and timing of certain hormones in our brain in the womb. These hormones actually influence your brain's circuitry and how it ultimately functions.

Good News and Bad News
Don't expect him to talk about feelings, intuitions or subtle nuances as well as your girlfriends. Studies have show that his brain is very different from yours. For example, a woman accesses both sides of her brain for language and spatial skills but a man's left side of his brain is almost exclusively verbal abilities and the right side is for visual. And even though the average male brain is slightly larger than the female's, the fibers that connect the right and left hemispheres, the corpus callosum, are nearly forty percent larger in women. This allows for greater cross talk between the hemispheres.

Good news: You can bring home the bacon, feed the baby, talk on the phone, see and interpret his body language, hear your teenager carry on a conversation and cook dinner all at once.

Bad news: Since you can access many parts of your brain at the same time, you might get scattered or distracted easier and you find it harder to stay focused on one thing than he does.

Good news: He can stay focused on a task and block out all distractions.

Bad news: If he's watching sports or working on a project, you have to inform him if there's been an explosion in another part of the building.

Talking to Be Heard
So how can a woman communicate to men in her life without suppressing a scream? And what are the best ways to be heard, really heard?
  • Be specific.
    Ask direct questions, use quantifiable nouns; how much, what age, statistics, dates. (Recall how men can remember sports statistics, not the feeling you had when he forgot your three month anniversary.)
  • Focus.
    Men follow conversations better if there is a focus and they know what it is. "We need to talk about the schedule for the Wiget Corporation" or "I need to ramble a bit about, give me ten minutes and then I'll stop."
  • Don't exaggerate or use inflammatory generalizations.
    "I'm so angry I could quit." "You never..." "You always..." "I wish just once you'd..."
  • Be brief.
    Remember, shut up sooner and longer. If you've had your say and he looks at you blankly, don't repeat yourself. Let him think about his answer, even if it takes a day or a week.
  • Summarize.
    Get to the point, if you have one. Try, "This will take five minutes..." "I have one question..."
  • Be direct.
    When making a request, say "Would you...?" or "Will you...? not "Could you...?" or "Can you...?" John Gray said in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, the W words are better because to a man the C words sound "untrusting, indirect, weak and manipulative."
  • Patience for feelings.
    Men have a hard time getting out of their head and into their hearts because the neural pathways are thin between these portions of the brain. Give him time to switch from an intellectual or financial discussion to cuddling or affection.
The point is not that men and women don't communicate well, but that with the great differences in brain structure and hormones, they communicate at all! What Men Want
For their thoughts, candid opinions and a part of their hearts that they gave so generously, I'd like to thank the hundreds of men I interviewed. They shared with me so that I could tell you something important to them. It's this: as much as you want to get along, they also have hope and anticipation that their efforts will get the job done with little strife and notable communication. Surprise, surprise, they want the same thing you do!

Copyright Connie Merritt, all rights reserved.

Speaker, Coach, Author of "Finding Love (Again!)"

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