by Jam Silvious
Each of us differs from one another in our style of communication, but the biggest difference seems to be between men and women.
Since my radio program, Jan's Journal, has been on the air, I've received mail from an equal number of men and women. Inevitably, the men are more direct and make a concise statement or ask a straightforward question; while the women usually try to establish some kind of relationship first. Some of them go into great detail, telling me where we have met or mentioning a program that has meant something to them. Only then do they get around to their purpose in writing.
These differences between men and women and the way they communicate are partly rooted in the fact that most men are goal-oriented and most women are relationship-oriented. Communica-tion can be frustrating—if you don't already know that.
I recently read this excerpt from a book called On Your Own Terms: a Woman's Guide to Working with Men, by Kathryn Stechert (Random House, 1987): "Males like to talk about things and activity; females prefer to talk about people and feelings. Those distinctions show up at very early ages. Even in preschool, psychologists have found boys are already talking about the physical environment and about activity. They talk about what they're building or the games they're playing. Their talk is auxiliary to activity. For little girls, talk often is the activity. Girls tend to play in twos, using shared secrets to establish and maintain friendships."
So what does this mean for you, as you go about your day's activities?
1. For the woman who wants to communicate with the man in her life: don't complain about it or demand it. Try to understand how he perceives things. If you want him to share on a more emotional level, draw him out with a direct question: "How do you feel about (the situation in Iraq, for instance)?
Women are often disappointed by conversations with men because we expect them to communicate the way our best girlfriends do. Remember, for you and your women friends, talk is often the tie that binds the relationship.
2. For men, try to tell the woman who matters to you how you feel about a situation. Let her get to know you apart from your activity. Let her know how you feel about your job, not just the facts of what you do. Another guy may be fascinated with how you make a motor work. But she wants to know how you feel about working on motors.
God made us distinctly different. Let's celebrate the differences, not complain about them. Understanding the communication style of the opposite sex is what God calls "bearing with one another in love."