Senior Nation Notes: Communication Styles Of Men and Women



Lynn L. West, PhDc, LCPC questions in the December 2016 issue of “Your Health” why men and women often have trouble discussing and resolving issues of conflict between them.

She suggests that the answer might be found in neuroscience studies of differences in male and female brains. She reports studies show, on average, male brains are slightly larger, by five ounces, than an adult female brain. However, female brains comprise much more white matter tissue in volume than male brains do.

The brain pathways located in the white matter cells are rich connections to emotional centers of the brain, which suggests that the reason females are tied more to emotions as part of their experience is due to their white matter dominance and the areas of the brain that women use.

Males, on the other hand, primarily process their experiences through the gray matter or association cortex areas of the prefrontal cortex, which involves facts rather than emotional connections.

When women want to discuss an issue, their discussion almost always includes the issue and a lot of emotional content involving their feelings. Interestingly, men have learned over time that the women’s emotional reaction is a reflection of something the man is doing. That is, women are looking for a change in a man’s behavior when they discuss an issue.

Men want to avoid emotionality and will adjust their behavior until they notice the woman showing signs that she is happy again and not angry with them. Men, as a group, learned to avoid blame and manage a woman’s emotional discharges by adjusting their behavior (not changing it). When the man’s behavior continues, a woman might say, “He just doesn’t get it.” The answer is often found to be that the issue has not been addressed, because it gets drowned out in the emotional expression.

Another area of misunderstanding for women is when they ask a man to help them do something that is outside of the normal routine of expectations for the man.

Women ask other women, all the time, to assist them in some way by lending hand to what needs to be done. Men want to be acknowledged for going above and beyond what is normally expected of them. Women do not understand this dynamic because women operate differently.

Men will do what is asked, one time, and expect appreciation every time they do something extra. Women learning this principle will make communication much easier and help to resolve conflicts.

Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article

We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.