A lot of how we deal with others, especially during conflicts, starts when we are children, and gender plays a large part in how we learned to interact with others.
How Men Deal
In general, boys play rougher. Competitiveness and aggression is ingrained in their playground antics, and they are less concerned about how others feel. When they are grown men, behaviors learned early in life can mold how they react in adult relationships, whether at work or at home, publicly or privately.
Most men view a direct challenge as a way to gain status and be respected by peers. When in conflict, they want to make a decision promptly to fix the problem, resolve the issue and move on. They often consider differences of opinions to be matters of fact, nothing more.
Although these attributes are not absolutes, men are often action-oriented; even communication is an activity with an end goal in mind. They tend to approach friendship differently than women and nonverbal communication is more reserved. In groups, body orientation will be at an angle with less eye contact made with others.
When a man argues he usually has a simpler, direct approach. Women may perceive this style of communication as lacking compassion, but it’s more his need to achieve results quickly, efficiently. Apologies are harder for men, it comes down to their concern about status and, more importantly, if it lowers them to a subordinate one.
Compliments, too, come from a different perspective, and are more a chance to evaluate and give advice, not always well-received by the other sex. Again with problem solving, it’s all about focusing on facts and fast results. Men lean toward statements rather than suggestions, they prefer direct and to the point; no fuss, no muss.
With all the appearance of stoic, minimal word conversations, you may believe men talk less than women. Truth is, the score’s about even in the chatterbox contest. Men talk more in social settings and with work colleagues, believing there is little need to speak unless there is a purpose, a goal to the conversation.
All in all, men are hard-wired differently than women and perhaps by understanding this fact, the great divide can be lessened, even conquered, so we can co-exist and love one another as we are meant to.
How Women Deal
On the playground, girls usually play nicely with one another and that’s often an indicator for future caretaking and a supportive nature, as they learn social skills with team play. Women are more reserved during conflict, even reluctant about opposing another directly. Sometimes they feel it is easier to keep silent rather than go head to head with someone. To a woman, conflict can be very personal and may be perceived as an attack.
If there is a dispute, a woman will tend to look to everyone for a general consensus on the issue. Such times are opportunity to examine or build relationships, to talk about feelings. Since women are basically discussion-oriented, they want to connect, share, communicate, and achieve resolution through dialogue based on emotions and feelings.
Women approach friendship from a totally different angle than men, even their nonverbal actions are more animated and their body angles with others more head-on with generous eye contact. When arguing, they often ask questions, whether to offer or gather information, or perhaps even rhetorical. It can be off-putting for men, who tend to dislike questions and may feel they are being censured, rather than understanding the intended fact-gathering mission on the woman’s part.
For women, apologies are made to fix relationships and maintain the connection, and compliments are automatic. Extensive talking, open expression of emotions, and sharing common experiences are all problem-solving techniques many women utilize, in direct contradiction to how men deal with the same problems.
When a woman wants to get her way, she may fall back on her instinctual conversation and questions. She will spend a great deal of time with her friends and family and, on the home front, tend to be the caretaker of the primary relationship with her partner. She may find it hard to get her partner involved at the same level and intensity.
When men and women converse, a woman might interrupt to show concern, while the man thinks it merely an interruption. When a man does it, he may be trying to control the conversation and in the woman’s viewpoint it is seen as an attempt to disrupt or redirect.
Whether dealing with a significant other, family and friends, co-workers or customers, figuring out how each of us deals with others according to gender can be enlightening. Take this knowledge and build stronger relationships, but allow for an individual’s personality to color these generalities. It is important to remember, as in all things with men and women, nothing is written in stone.