Male v Female communication

Do you ever get confused by male and female communication?

Male v female communication may sound the same but the words and actions are often interpreted in different ways. If you have ever felt that the man or woman in your life seems to be on a different planet follow the link to, multi-tasking, asking for directions and words women use to gain a better understanding about what the two sexes actually mean.

However these are all generalisations and there are always exceptions to the rule. Also both men and women are on a spectrum and in some areas act and think nearer to that of the other sex.

Gender differences while having an argument

"Why do we have to eat here?" Her

"It's convenient." Him

"Are there any quieter restaurants nearby?" Her

"Not close by." Him

"The place we went to last week was good wasn’t it?" Her

"Yes it was. Let's go in." Him

What is being said? If you are a man you think you have convinced your partner that this is a good place to eat. If you are a woman you will recognise that she is not happy about going to this restaurant.

Women often use questions in an discussion or argument. It's how they present their opposition. Men are more likely to take the simple, direct approach. This can cause misunderstandings. Link to you are not listening for more details.


Most people dislike being interrupted, but most people do it at one time or another. This is another area where there are generally male v female communication differences. Women interrupt to show concern, but they think men disrupt the discussion by shifting the subject.

Men do try to control the conversation by disrupting it. They also believe a woman's supportive interjections (for example, "go on") are interruptions. Women also often interrupt because they think they know what the man is going to say and think he’s taking too long to reach the point!

Frequent interruptions, no matter what the cause, can lead to frustration. This can build to anger and, unless the guilty party gets things under control, the discussion will come to a stop. 

Male v female communication while using memory.

Researchers have found that men and women use different parts of their brains to form memories, and it turns out that the emotional centre of the brain plays a large role in women's memories.

When women are affected emotionally by something, whether something they experienced themselves of something in the news, they are apt to remember every single detail. 

Men, on the other hand, tend to have more visual and "tactical" memories, which means they easily remember how to get from one place to another, or the layout of a room, yet have trouble recalling a loved one's birthday.

 And women may need to give men a hand at social events -- women are better than men at recalling faces, particularly female faces. 

Having been a member of a mixed book group for some time it was very interesting to hear how we all interpreted the books we read. generally the men remembered the action detail - but were often bemused by the female comments about the emotional undercurrents taking place.

Showing empathy.

There are gender differences in how men and women empathise. Men frequently test as less empathetic than women. Without empathy, or the ability to put oneself in another person's shoes men tend to miss many of the queues given off by others. 

There appears to be an evolutionary reason for this. Men, in their roles as hunter and protector, would have needed the ability to coldly kill animals - and people in order to feed and defend their family.

Women, as caregivers, would have needed the ability to nurture their children, read their needs through non verbal communication and get along with nearby families. So this is an area where male v female communication has evolved very differently and still plays its part today. 

Mirror neurons may play a role in empathy. As the name implies, these neurons cause us to mirror actions and emotions that are presented to us. If our friend looks sad, mirror neurons would cause us to feel sad and wonder what was wrong. Studies have shown that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men, which is probably why they're better at picking up emotional cues and detecting when something is wrong.

Experiments have backed up this idea. Subjects were shown a number of photographs of a couple sitting on a bench in the park. They were asked to describe the scene. The men described the location and the two people, their clothes and age. The women gave the same description plus the emotions being displayed – one person being angry, upset, happy, flirty. The other experiment was showing subjects photographs of individuals and asking for descriptions of the person and what was going on. In addition to the general look of the person the men managed to describe the emotions when they were extreme, shouting and pointing, for example, they clarified as someone who was angry, tears rolling down cheeks – they recognised as sad, but subtler signals were completely missed. This is a very clear difference in male v female communication.

So if you're sending a man what you consider to be glaring signals that something is wrong and he is taking no notice, it’s not that he doesn’t care, simply he isn’t able to understand your signal. He'll need more than withering looks and body language to receive an error message.

If you enjoyed male v female communication you might link to words women use.

Return to interpersonal relationships

You are not listening - how we communicate differently

Asking for directions - male and female impression management

Male and female risk taking - competitive or collaborative

Words women use - and a translation for men of what they actually mean

Multi tasking - the pros and cons