Did you know “communication stress” can be one of the biggest sources of stress in relationships?
Communication. How do we communicate? Even the experts cannot agree on how many different communications styles actually exist, so how is the average Jane supposed to know how to communicate effectively? We all like to think we’re saying exactly what we mean, but when you have different styles of communication in one dialogue, things can get really confusing. Miscommunication can accelerate a discussion into an argument in only seconds. And, the reason communication is so important in a relationship is because miscommunication can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, stress, and worse.
One thing all linguistic and communication experts can agree on is that communication styles exist along a continuum. The ease or difficulty of expressing yourself and understanding you partner lies in determining how far you and your partner are from one another along the line of opposing communication extremes. And, while there can be many influences on communication styles (such as age, culture, status, geography, and even more) gender differences play a crucial role in communication.
Scientific research has shown the men and women actually use different parts of their brain while listening which can lead to what is called conversational disconnect. I’m sure my spice would love to be able to blame our breakdowns in communication on science rather than indifference! Instead, communication is a lot more complex. Verbal, non-verbal, aggressive, passive-aggressive, assertive, manipulative, and passive communications with direct vs. indirect styles … it’s a wonder that any person can ever understand what anyone else is actually saying.
Have you ever listened to a couple having a conversation, and realized that neither of them are actually talking about the same thing?
Three very important things I’ve learned in life concerning communication in general are:
- People don’t usually listen to us in order to understand what we are saying; instead, they listen in order to respond to what we are saying.
- Even when people are listening to really hear us, they hear us from their own perspective, not our perspective.
- In any given conflict, the Truth of that situation tends to lie somewhere in the middle.
So, ladies, if you’re in a relationship with a man, this stuff is really worth investigating. The more we are aware of all the differences, the more successful we will be in communicating to get our message out in a clear and understandable manner; plus, it may help keep us from coming to wrong conclusions while listening to our partners speak. In the midst of a discussion, few couples want to stop and say, “Hey, why don’t we analyze what we’re actually trying to say here before this gets outta hand?”. It’s especially difficult to do during a discussion or debate that is already ramping up.
One of my favorite sources on male and female differences in communication style is You Just Don’t Understand, written by the esteemed linguistic expert Deborah Tannen. I was introduced to her while at Texas Tech University and I’ve since become a something of a fan-girl. You’re welcome to check out my resource page, on which I assure you, you’ll find her work.