Women speak and hear a language based on ‘connection’ and ‘intimacy’, while men speak and hear a language based on ‘status’ and ‘independence’. When men and women talk to one another, it’s like the meeting of two completely different cultures. The idea that men and women grow up in different worlds might seem absurd at first. Brothers and sisters grow up in the same families, and they’re children of the same fathers and mothers. Where do women and men learn their different styles of communication?

Different world of words

Let’s start at the beginning. Even if boys and girls grow up in the same environment, the same street or the same house, they often grow up in a different world of words. People speak differently to men and women, and they expect and accept different styles of communication from them. It’s important to grasp that children don’t just learn how to speak and interact with others from their parents, but from their peers as well. In other words, boys learn from other boys and men, while girls learn from other girls and women. For example, boys spend more time playing outside. In large groups that have their own hierarchy. Their groups have a ‘leader’ who tells other people what needs to happen and, more importantly, how that needs to be done. The leaders give out orders, and suggestions for doing things differently are often rejected. Everything is about status and independence. Men and boys gain status by telling stories and jokes in public, and challenging the stories of others. The games boys play have winners and losers, and boys often like to brag about their abilities.

Intimacy and connection

Then there are the girls. They often play in smaller groups or in pairs. The central point of a girl’s social life is her best friend. In a group of girls, intimacy and connection is the most important thing. Everyone gets a turn when they play games. Often, their games don’t have winners or losers either. Although some girls have more abilities than others, girls are not expected to brag about them or show that they’re better than others. When girls talk to each other they don’t give each other orders, because that’s ‘bossy’. Instead, they might say: “Let’s do this”, or: “What would you think about doing that?” They’re less likely to try to be the centre of attention by making jokes or telling stories. They’re more concerned with whether people like them or not.

Do you experience problems communicating with the other sex, privately or at work? Then grasp the fact that this might be the reason, and understand your differences.