According to John Gray, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. I'm not 100% sure I buy the analogy all the way through. I like to see us as all being from Earth and created according to God's wise design. We are just wired differently. I don't buy into too much of the talk about how we're only different because of societal programing either! I don't even think the medical community believes that one anymore.
Our bodies are different, our brains are structured differently and our chemistries are different. It's not society that made us so. We are designed so and these differences present themselves every day in many ways with communication being one of the most important. We may not be from Mars and Venus, but we certainly don't speak the same language.
Communication is only “effective” if the message intended by the deliverer is understood by the receiver. Whether or not he/she agrees is another topic altogether. When it comes to men and women, cultivating “understanding” is no simple accomplishment but it “is” possible to bridge the gap between the two. Here are two keys to add to our communication language that will help everyone.
Men- Be more transparent when talking with women. This isn't about honesty it's about being authentic and naked. Not hiding one's true nature. No pretense. No masks. I've found that men (including me) often communicate behind a veneer. That’s not to say it is dishonest, it's to say that we tend to hide parts of ourselves. We have to show who we are and what we really think. How can we expect to find a good fit if we don't show people what they're really working with? Let her see you for who you really are so that she can make a more informed decision regarding whether or not she can go forward with you. You do not want someone who is unaware of who you are.
Women- Lead with the headline when talking to men. Women complain that men don't listen to them and don't communicate. Sometimes that's true. Sometimes it's about learning how a man processes information. Women would have considerably more success talking to the men in their lives if they learn to give the bottom line first and then the details. This helps him to start with the “real point” and place it as we proceed to go all the way around the issue and back. He is thinking A…B…C, we are thinking A…A1….A2….A3….B….B1….B2….B3; completely different process of listening and responding.
As for the topic of effective communication in general, here are some guidelines to point you in the right direction:
- Everything you say and do not say, is communicating “something”.
- Effective Communication is something that is “developed” over time. It does not happen overnight. It usually takes concentrated effort.
- Building relationship with another involves being willing to make the adjustments necessary to bring “improvement” to that relationship. Learning how to communicate is part of that process.
- Always remember; body language and vocal tone speak much louder than your words ever will.
- Ask questions to clarify what the other said. Repeat back what “you” understand from what they said and confirm that you are both on the same page. If you are not, take a deep breath and approach from a different angle. “Try” to bridge the gap.
- Be patient as you work at understanding one another.