Wednesday, September 03, 2008

His Brain, Her Brain #2

First – yesterday was a 'bust' as far as productivity – back to dealing with customer service. My new cell phone arrived. Nothing like spending about 4 hours and fighting with computer interfaces, misleading menus and trying to download my 'free' ringtone (and having the call dropped right when you get to the, "oh, let me transfer you to the person who can help you" stage). Then, my phone bill came – the one that last month's customer service rep SWORE would be perfect. HA! Took 40 minutes to get through, and to get the rep to agree that I deserved a credit for a service I canceled in March. I wouldn't have minded if I could have worked while on hold, but they interrupted the very nice classical music every 10 seconds with another wonderful reason to be a customer (including their outstanding customer service).

Back to His Brain – Her Brain.
Today, let's look at Speech and Language

The male uses his left brain, frontal lobe. Deals with about 8000 signals.
The female uses multiple sites, bilaterally. Deals with about 20,000 signals.
Male speech is direct and literal.
Female language is more indirect. There's more negotiation, emotive involvement.
Female speech is more facile, more integrated.
There are more male than female. Stutterers.
Men use language to compete.
Women use speech as a reward, as a bonding tool.
Men have emotionless listening postures.
Women show 6 different listening postures.
Men don't need to express pleasure with words.
Women talk. And talk.

60-80% of communication is non-verbal.
20-30% of communication is via voice sounds
7-10% of communication is via words
Men only hear the words
Women hear and use 6 tones
Men hear and use 4 tones

For a male, silence is not punishment.

Yesterday I mentioned Tracy Montoya's workshop. She discussed Robin Lakoff's power theory and Deborah Tannen's connection theory. Given the insights of the difference in brain structure and hard-wiring, everything makes sense. Bear in mind, Tracy's workshop focused on American men and women, and holds about 60% of the time. (The following is taken from my April 1st post, to save you having to dig for it.)

The hard wiring is evidenced at a very early age. Little girls want to fit in. Little boys like to be the boss. As women, we grow up wanting to be part of the group and don't like to make waves, whereas for men, it's about the hierarchy. Girls share secrets, like to connect. Boys want to be higher up the ladder and use language to one-up each other. If that doesn't work, they may resort to physical means.

Which is why men don't ask for directions -- it puts them 'one step under' the person they're asking for help. And it helps explain why men don't apologize. That also puts them in a subservient role. Or if they do, it's more like, "I'm sorry if you feel that way..."

These observations are built around our culture and our language, and are broad generalizations. Patterns, not rules. Regional background, age, and birth order also play a part.

But I loved her example of how little boys play the game. Three little boys in a car. One says, "We're going to Disneyland for four days." Boy #2 says, "We're going to Disneyland for FIVE days." Boy #3 says, "We're MOVING to Disneyland." The driver was the father of Boy #3. Deborah Tannen was in the car as well. He was about to step in and admonish his son for lying, but she stopped him. She explained that they'd just established the pecking order, and his son came out on top. The boys all knew it was a verbal battle, and they knew nobody was moving to Disneyland.

Fascinating subject, and it's a great tool if you're trying to make your characters sound real.


Jess said...

So, all things considered, men basically don't hear us at all? That explains SOO much.

Pat said...

Nice to know hubby and I are a normal America couple.

Terry Odell said...

If anything, we've learned it's pointless to expect them to behave any differently. And "they can't help it" might help a teeny bit.

Ray said...

I have to admit that once I concentrate on something I hear nothing around me. Right now I am watching TV as I comment. If you asked what has been said, I couldn't tell you. I have told my wife, and my kids, if you want me to listen get my attention first.

As far as the one upmanship, it may be one reason I don't have many male friends.