With many of us having to stay at home for an extended amount of time due to “Stay at Home” orders and proactive Social Distancing, I thought it would be helpful to share some important information on how men and women can build stronger relationships during this time.
Men and women aren’t the same – and as a result, they have gender blind spots that lead to conflicts. In this post I will shine the light on some of the biggest faulty assumptions men and women have about each other – and how to conquer them so you can make it through this time together even stronger than when the lockdowns started!
According to Barbara Annis, CEO of the Gender Intelligence Group, these are some of the key gender intelligence insights based on her research over a seven-year period:
1. Stating Needs, Not Blaming – Men’s brains focus more than women’s brains on performance and results. Men will be more open to learning and changing when they see how information will lead to a more effective and efficient way of achieving results. By focusing the conversation on presenting a solution that works for them rather than focusing on the problem (and the source of the problem) enables men to get better at the things women want them to improve on by allowing them to act on a stated need instead of struggling to change a perceived behavior flaw.
2. When Advice Goes Wrong – Because men and women have different ways of problem solving, they can often end up with conflict and resentment as they try to get to a solution. Men typically want to solve problems quickly and feel most appreciated when seeing their advice acted upon. Women (as I have found personally) usually don’t want instant advice and prefer to be allowed to express how they are feeling to someone who will listen without judging or telling them what to do (even if the advice is good). It is best to listen with a sympathetic ear and ask questions to learn more about the situation at hand.
3. Listening in New Ways – According to the research from Annis, 82 percent of men think they communicate well enough to women but only 52% of women feel fully heard by men! Men tend to silently think about things before sharing which can be a problem as this will seem like men are not showing they are listening. If men understand they are not expected to share, they will be more willing to listen.
4. Navigating Our “Emotions Gap” – Men and women often manage and express their emotions in different ways. For example, men tend to conceal their feelings and only expressing themselves when highly stressed while women tend to express their feelings more openly. This can lead to confusion as men will appear emotionally stunted and women will appear overly emotional. This process actually makes women more reflective when making decisions, bringing in past experiences and emotions to help guide actions – while men are more reactive and short-term thinking, naturally ignoring past experiences. By understanding these differences, men and women can complement each other by combining a woman’s emotional reactions and reflective thoughts with men’s impulse to act quickly and work together to explore the consequences of those actions before moving forward.
It is important to recognize that men and women handle communication and decision making differently. Armed with this information, I hope it will help deal with some of the stress that could be created from these “Stay at Home” orders and lead to more understanding and trust in your relationships!
This blog post was based on a report published by VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group I have on retainer to keep me up to date on the latest research and strategies for addressing the key concerns for successful families and business owners. Barba Annis is the CEO of the Gender Intelligence Group, chair emerita of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School, and author of five books on gender, diversity and inclusive leadership.
Investment advice offered through Integrated Financial Partners, doing business as konvergent wealth partners, a registered investment advisor.