Are you in a relationship with someone who shuts down when they’re angry? Or are you involved with a person who generally doesn’t share much? Either way it can make it difficult and frustrating to connect with this individual. A recent article written by Eliza Collins from USA Today finds that women are wired to talk more than men. Surprise, surprise! Researchers at the University of Maryland found that females have higher levels of a protein called FOXP2 which is linked to verbal communication. In fact women speak an average of 20,000 words a day compared with only 7,000 words a day for men. This explains why men usually call a guy friend for a specific reason and share very few words while women call friends for no particular reason and share a lot.
In my practice, men might clam up because they’re angry, hurt, or sad and have a difficult time communicating what they’re feeling. At other times, the silent treatment is a passive-aggressive response used to punish/hurt the other person without confronting the conflict directly. For those who avoid sharing what they think and feel I’ve often said, “ninety percent of what goes on in your head never reaches your lips.” And conflict that remains in your head will never be resolved. Keeping thoughts and feelings to yourself can limit your emotional connection to others and make it very difficult to resolve differences. Not to mention that when we don’t share we are allowing others to decide what we’re thinking or feeling.
Understanding the science behind why women talk more than men is helpful, but how do we work with our differences in a constructive manner? Can men step up and share more or do women have to share less? We are so different, but different isn’t necessarily bad. Our differences can be opportunities for growth, learning patience, expanding our humility, and working as a team. Timing is one of the keys to determining when to speak and when to be silent. Next week I will share ways be more “in-sync.”