Talk To Me In A Way I Can Listen To You

I had dinner with a friend of mine this weekend and had the most wonderful conversation. At one point we were going over a finer point of the discussion and it came down to one word; which he called semantics. To me that one word made a huge difference. Being a writer I think I am more sensitive to semantics and specific words than most people – or I just could be weird that way. Either way it got me to thinking – go figure.

The following night another friend mentioned something to me and when I responded he rolled his eyes. Not very nice if you ask me, and I told him so. He said it wasn’t what he meant. So I told him to just say what he meant. It seemed pretty easy to me. More eye rolling. Got me thinking so more – go figure.

When I first talk to a client I will frequently ask questions like, “does that make sense to you” just to make sure we are still on the same page. I know how easy it is to start down the path on in the same conversation and end up at two completely different destinations. This fact is complicated even more when both genders are participating in the conversation.

Men and women think, speak and perceive differently. I’m not saying either one is better or more correct than the other – just that we use different processes. I know the following are generalities, but in my experience they ring true: men tend to be more frank; women tend to see interpretations. Think of it like a Sunday drive.

Men know the end destination, they know the route they want to take, know when they need to stop for gas, don’t make additional stops or concessions – here is where they are going and here is how we are going to get there, period.

Women pack a lunch. We look at the scenery as we go, we look for additional stops that might be “fun” along the way, don’t mind taking a veer or two along the way – here is where we are going but it is the drive that is the focus and all the things along the way.

Sometimes these can be very complimentary – the attention to scenery may be necessary for someone who is very destination driven in order to not miss any of the finer points. The focus on the end result may be vital to the lollygagger in able to reach the destination on time.

The next time you are in a conversation with the opposite sex keep in mind that their mind is processing your words and message in a manner which is very different than how you are presenting them.

When listening women have to remember to try not to over-analyze what is said and concentrate on just the message before us. We can always ask a few clarifying questions but it is vital that we start with just the message as is. For men you need to hang in there through the whole message to get the meaning. Boil it down and then ask if you understood it correctly. We may sigh or roll our eyes but at least you will know if you got it right or not.

When speaking women must remember to boil down the message to the essence of importance; men must remember to make the drive a little more interesting and not just point A to point B.

Adapting your listening and speaking style to your audience will save a lot of frustration and help ensure much clearer communication. Sometimes we get frustrated because we think our message is pretty simple; however what is simple to one is complex to another. If it is truly important for your message to be understood than you must respect the other party’s comprehension process in order that you both arrive at the same destination.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

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