How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the personal development book I chose for February is Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Barbara and Allan Pease. One giant obstacle to communication is relating to one another and understanding someone else’s point of view. That can be magnified because of gender differences that aren’t often talked about or understood.

This subject can be controversial because our society wants to paint men and women as the same, even though there are unique differences. Men are not better than women; women are not better than men. But there are differences. And although this book wasn’t my style, it still had good information that can help us understand each other better.

We Are Unique

I would like to point out that every single person on this planet is different. The things I talk about below may seem limiting, but they talk about the majority of people in each gender. I completely understand that some women will not fit every female trait and some men will not fit every male trait, because we’re all individuals! Some people do not feel as if they fall into a male or female category, and there are people all over the spectrum. However, I think this post can still be applicable to anyone that doesn’t fall into these categories. It will still allow you to learn about the way people think, and maybe help you understand your own thought processes a little better.

That being said, welcome to the third month of personal and professional book discussions! In case you missed them, here are links to December and January‘s posts. December’s post was about 5 Ways to Ensure Success, and January’s post was about How to Take Advantage of Your Twenties.

How Understanding gender differences aids communication

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There were eleven headings in this book. The headings cover a broad variety of topics including communication, sex, biology, the workplace, etc. For our purposes, I would like to focus on the aspects that help us understand how to communicate effectively with the people around us.

Compartmentalizing VS Multitasking

Have you ever seen those graphics where the inside of a man’s brain is a bunch of boxes neatly labeled, and a woman’s brain is a tangled ball of yarn? According to research done by Barbara and Allan Pease, that graphic is incredibly accurate.

Men are more likely to be able to compartmentalize their thoughts, meaning that they can separate their thoughts into categories that don’t often mix. For example, if something goes wrong at work, a man can either go to the “angry box” or the “problem-solving box.” If they choose the problem-solving box they may feel anger about the situation later, but probably not at the same time.

Women, on the other hand, are quite different. Think back to that tangled ball of yarn. Women’s thoughts and feelings are all connected. Is something goes wrong at work, we are likely to feel man, annoyed, pressure to solve the problem, a little sad that the system isn’t working the way it should, which would remind us that the dishwasher at home is broken… You get the idea.

Since our brains are wired differently, it’s easier for men to perform a single task at a time and really focus on it. For women, we are masters at multitasking and get bored if we are told to focus on one thing. Understanding this difference is important, because it gets to the root of some persistent problems in many relationships and professional settings.

Indexing VS Talking

It’s common knowledge that most women talk more than men. But did you know there is actually science to back that up? Talking about problems, thoughts, and feelings is the best way for women to get them out of our heads. I think this is one of the reasons writing in a journal is so effective as well. It physically gets the thoughts out of your mind and allows you to think about other things!

Men are the opposite. They keep their thoughts, feelings, and problems in their mind and file them away. They are more likely to take time to sit on an issue and put them on hold to think clearly about them later. I’ve found this to be true in my marriage, and it drives me crazy (even though it’s probably a good thing)! I make decisions much faster than my husband does. The good thing about this is that it allows me to think more clearly about situations too by giving it time and making sure it’s not powered by the emotions of the moment.

There methods of dealing with problems causes tension between the genders, because they are essentially opposites. When women talk about all of their problems at the end of the day, they simply want to discharge, but men think the women are giving them a list of problems to solve. The best way to handle this situation is for the woman to say, “Hey, I would love to talk to you about my day. Don’t feel like I’m bombarding you with problems to solve, I just want you to know what’s going on in my head.”

Turn-Taking VS Engaged Interrupting

One thing I’ve learned from this book that I actively try to utilize in my life is how interrupting comes off to different genders. For women, we love to talk together and nod along with what someone is saying, and “Mhm!” and “Oh, right!” while they’re talking. It shows engagement, camaraderie, and builds rapport. Which I personally love!

The problem is when women try to apply this to talking to men. Men rarely interrupt each other and only do so when they perceive another man as being aggressive or competitive. So when women try to apply the way they speak to other women, it comes off as aggressive. And when men try to speak to women the way they speak to other men, they come off as disinterested and not engaged.

Finding a middle ground and understanding that there are key differences can help us learn to communicate better. It can also help us understand why people act the way they do. Try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, no matter what situation you’re in.

Although these categories may seem limiting, they fit the majority of people! I encourage you to put them to the test. See if adopting these tactics help you communicate better with the people around you. AND, If you’re looking for more interesting personal and professional development books, here’s a list of books to read in 2018. I hope you’ll join me in reading one every month!

Have you found any helpful, effective ways to communicate with others? Share them in the comments. We would definitely benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

Makayla

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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter

Each month, I discuss a personal or professional development book on this blog. Last month the we discussed 5 Ways to Ensure Success in Business, Relationships, and Everyday Communication; influenced by Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The book I’d like to discuss this month is The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD.

So in the interest of transparency, I am in my twenties (22). But to be honest, I think this book can be enlightening to anyone who isn’t entirely sure about the path they’re on… Which I assume is most of us! And if I’ve learned anything from this book, it’s that everyone wants to grow, live up to their potential, and be the person they’re supposed to be.

This book is broken into three sections and each section has several sub-sections:

  1. Work
  2. Love
  3. The brain and the body

I will use the same format to outline the themes I found. There may be some overlap, simply because our lives are complicated and interconnected.

Work

To me, the most encouraging piece of advice in this section was, “Don’t be afraid to reach out.” From experience I’ve found that applying to jobs that you aren’t quite qualified for makes you feel pretty junky. However, have you thought about what would happen if you actually get that job? Take an extra twenty minutes and fill out that application, even if you think there’s no chance you’ll get it. As Meg points out, “the worst they can do is say no,” and the best is life changing.

I know this point is true from experience! I had my resume up on a job search website and it was picked up by a recruiter for an investment banking firm in the city. She asked me if I’d like to come in for an interview. A little something about me, I graduated with a degree in human development and am currently studying gerontology… and have no finance experience whatsoever.

The author puts a huge emphasis on “the strength of weak ties.” You all know the basic idea, even if you haven’t heard that term. It’s essentially when someone says, “I got a job at Microsoft because my dad’s college roommate works there.” Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Ugh, I really hate networking. I want to get a job on my own.” I get it.

But stop thinking that way.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help from weak ties, and Meg Jay would agree with me. Why? Because once you get that job, you still need to hold your own and prove yourself. Be the kind of person that is grateful for the opportunity and proves that you do belong there.

If you’re someone that has no idea what they want to do with their life *coughMEcough*, try your best to keep your doors open and keep progressing and adding to your resume and life experiences, because when the perfect opportunity comes along, you want to be able to snag it with confidence.

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Love/Friendships

This section was originally labeled “Love,” but I think adding friendships to this category is important. At first it was difficult for me to glean advice or information from this section, because I am happily married to a man that I adore! It was only after I started taking Jay’s information into the context of other relationships that aren’t romantic, that I was able to digest the information in a helpful way.

She mentions that “An identity or career can’t be built on what you don’t want.” I think this holds true for relationships as well. If you’re going into a relationship or friendship knowing that it’s not what you want in the end, then what are you doing? You’re wasting time and energy. Even if you’re only in your twenties, put your effort into something or someone that will help you progress as a person and reach your goals.

This next point is something I see many people my age struggling with: having a tribe. Social media has us constantly comparing each other, and sometimes it seems like everyone else has “people” to hang with, go on trips with, or party with. It’s simply not true. What you’re seeing is someone else’s best, and I bet you’re comparing their best to your worst. No one feels satisfied with their social life 100% of the time.

If this is an area where you struggle, I invite you to read this book. Examine the areas of your life where you’re unsatisfied with your relationships. It’s a great way to put things in perspective and gain some tools to get out of your funk.

The Brain and the Body

Confession time: feeling overwhelmed is approximately 98% of my life. Luckily, I’m convinced that I’m not alone in that. This book helped me realize that we can’t control anything except how we interpret situations and how we respond. Jay points out that we often get stuck in a fixed mindset. We think that everyone around us has always been competent and confident in what they’re doing. In reality, they started out like us.

And you know how they became confident and competent? They said yes to something. They made a decision. The author addresses a common problem among young adults, which is “If you don’t say yes to something, your life will be unremarkable and limited.” As children, we’re told that we can be anything we want, do anything we put our mind to… Well, that’s not necessarily true. I don’t have the reflexes or problem solving skills to be a fighter pilot. No matter how much I wanted that or worked for it, it’s a path that isn’t attainable for me. And that’s okay! There are other things that I’m better suited for, and I can find it by developing my natural talents and not stressing about the paths that are closed to me.

So…

How do we make the most of our twenties? Recognize that we’re all seeds, but we aren’t all acorns. Some of us will grow into oaks, but some will be maples, palms, or elms. Recognize that your path won’t look like anyone else’s. Say YES to something, work hard even when you feel like it isn’t worth it, and be the kind of person you want to be.

Makayla

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3 TIPS TO ADD INTENTION TO YOUR DAILY LIFE

3 Tips to Add Intention to Your Daily Life

I spend a lot of time on trains. I often sit by the window in the early mornings and look out at the landscape as it rushes by, feeling the cool air radiate from the glass. For the past four weeks, I’ve been listening to podcasts as I ride, which has added not only spectacular audio, but a way to learn from others. This week I chose Jess Lively’s The Lively Show. It’s designed to uplift, inspire, and add intention to your everyday life. And it certainly does.

Jess is awesome. She started her business when she was fifteen and now travels the world full time while teaching others how to live more joyfully. One thing I love about Jess is that she leads conversations, but does not dominate them. The people she interviews feel free to open up about their own stories and Jess simply guides them along.

Every episode of The Lively Show (that I listened to) is an interview with someone who lives a life of intention. Most of them are bloggers and entrepreneurs that blazed their own online trails. What I love about this setup is that even though these people have similar outcomes (successful businesses or blogs), they have such different ways of getting there. Some people took eight years to get to where they are and some took significantly less time, but all of their stories are unique and interesting. After listening to the first 15 episodes, there are three themes I found in The Lively show.

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Be Diligent

We are all incredibly busy. We have families, school, work, housework, etc. And huge dreams that we need to work for. And only 24 hours in a day. I’m willing to bet that our dreams are often put on the back-burner when prioritizing the zillion things we have to do.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to take hours and hours of our time each day to work towards our goals. It was suggested in this podcast that if you just take 30 minutes every day to work on your blog or business, you’ll be able to build momentum. Taking small chunks of time and really focusing on the task at hand can be more effective than taking a lot of time and not being as focused. Doing too many things at a time can also be overwhelming. Instead, try to pick one or two things to accomplish at a time and dive deeper into them.

In addition, recognize that there’s always something you’re going to want. Someone else will be living your ideal situation. One of the guests Jess interviews talks specifically about this situation. She says to just do something to move forward and not stay in a situation that you’re unhappy with! Stop giving excuses and go after what you want.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

At the end of each episode, Jess asked everyone she interviewed what their best piece of advice would be for someone just starting out on their journey. Almost every single person she interviewed said, “Just do it! Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams!” Now, how many times have you heard that advice from someone further along in the process? I’ve heard it so many times, and it never sunk in. Until listening to this podcast.

You’re never going to be 100 percent ready for something. Right now, I’ve been procrastinating growing an email list for my blog. It’s scary to me because it’s something I haven’t done before. And the thought, “Man, what if no one signs up?” holds me back. But here’s the thing, nothing has to be permanent. If the first email I send out is a total flop, then I’ll learn from it and write a better one. The same principle applies to anything, really.

This podcast was full of people Jess had met at conventions and social events. She is so willing to reach out to others and get their opinions and perspectives. It can be exhausting just thinking about networking sometimes! But Jess recommends reaching out to others in creative ways (such as buying them a taco instead of offering money) to build relationships and show your interest in their knowledge. Try your best to open doors for yourself. The worst they can do is say no!

Find Your Passion

I’m not a vegetarian, but one of my favorite episodes of The Lively Show was with a guest that makes her living coaching and writing about plant based eating. The reason I enjoyed this episode is because the guest had gone through so much to get to the point where she found what she was truly passionate about. To me, someone that is so sure about what they’re sharing is inspiring.

Even if we’re not inspired by vegan recipes, sharing what you love is essential to success. For me, I am passionate about actively learning to become my best self. I love finding new resources to make that possible, and sharing what I find on this blog helps propel me forward.

No matter what you choose to pursue in life, there will always be someone that will disagree with you or think you’re silly. And that’s okay! Be confident in who you are and what’s important to you. Because you have something to share with the world.

 

MAKAYLA

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Practical Happiness: Changes That Aren’t Overwhelming

We all have busy lives that are filled with junk that we don’t want to do. Many of us have work, school, and relationships that take up the majority of our time. On top of that, we have chores, cooking, exercise, self-care, and maybe trying to fit some leisure time in between. Frankly, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy seems unavoidable for some people because of the obligations they find themselves having to fill everyday. Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft address those feelings in their podcast “Happier.”

I’ve listened to three podcasts this year, and Happier was by far my favorite. Gretchen and Elizabeth are both successful women that share their experiences as they try to be happier people. Gretchen researches happiness and has even published books on the topic (Better than Before and The Happiness Project), while Elizabeth is the “happiness guinea pig” and tests the suggestions Gretchen gives to her listeners. Each episode is short (about 20 minutes), so listening doesn’t seem like an imposition. There is a fairly structured format for these episodes, which I personally enjoy. Here’s the format:

  1. Tip of the day: Each episode starts with a tip that you can try out for the week. All of these tips were completely practical (i.e., making your bed in the morning, the “one minute rule,” or setting an alarm for bedtime).
  2. Stumbling blocks: Gretchen addresses stumbling blocks to happiness that are often overlooked. This includes things like free food, envy, and cluttered rooms.
  3. Know yourself better: I loved this section in every episode because she talks about the different groups people can fall into and discusses each one. The reason I loved it is because it’s so inclusive and allows everyone listening learn something. It also helps us understand others in a deeper way.
  4. Happiness demerits and gold stars: At the end of each episode Gretchen and Elizabeth take turns giving themselves demerits and stars. A demerit goes to things in their lives that detract from their happiness and stars go to people, objects, or places that bring joy!

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Just like the last two podcasts I discussed on Hello, Professional Girl!, I listened to 15 episodes of Happier and identified themes that are relevant to millennials like you and me.

Happiness is Attainable 

There’s a common belief that if you think about happiness too much, then you won’t be happy. Gretchen suggests that way of thinking is wrong. Think of it this way… How are you going to hit a target with an arrow if you aren’t aiming at it? In the same way, how are you going to be happy if you aren’t thinking about ways to reach happiness?

Fixing small things in our daily lives can lead to a life of happiness without taking up time and energy that we don’t have. For example, simply “aiming” for happiness by thinking about what makes us happy can get us one step closer. I personally enjoy making little changes instead of trying to change everything all at once, because it’s not as overwhelming for me. One suggestion I absolutely loved was to be very intentional when saying hello and goodbye to people. Make sure to give a warm greeting when you walk into the office, or an attentive goodbye to your family as you leave for the day. There is research that supports the fact that relationships with others is what makes us happy, and making the effort to cultivate those relationships is worth it!

Dealing with Negativity

When you’re happy, other people are more likely to be happy. However, there are always people who are in a bad mood and in a constant state of negativity. When grumpy people are put in our path, Gretchen suggests using emotional contagion to deal with them. Emotional contagion is essentially the idea that your emotions will trigger the same emotions in others. So the next time one of those grumps crosses your path, don’t let them bring you down. Try to lift them up by being your naturally positive self, and don’t feel bad about it.

Negative people tend to take the opposite view of whatever the other person is saying. For example, if you say, “Oh, that activity must have been fun!” Their reply would most likely be, “No, it was actually not that great.” To be honest, I am guilty of this. I think I take the opposite side of the conversation for the sake of keeping the conversation going! The problem with this approach is that you come off as argumentative. Gretchen reminds us that skilled conversationalists have a way of being positive and leaving you feeling better after talking to them. By being conscious of how we’re speaking to others, we can being more happiness into our lives and the lives of others.

Boost Productivity

In most episodes of Happier, Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about how everyone is different when it comes to what will make them happy and more productive. Problems with productivity come when people don’t recognize what kind of person they are, which will ultimately make them unhappy.

For example, some people are “marathoners” and some are “sprinters” when it comes to getting work done. Marathoners prefer to get things done slowly over time while sprinters prefer to be right up against a deadline. In school (at least in the US), everyone is taught to be a marathoner. We’re told that your best work can’t be rushed and, “There’s no possible way this assignment can be done in one night!” The fact is, some people truly do their best work when they’re rushed. It would not make them happier to think about and work on an assignment for an entire semester! If you’re not a marathoner, don’t feel bad about it. There’s no right or wrong. Embrace what works for you.

 My favorite piece of advice Gretchen and Elizabeth give about productivity is the “One Minute Rule.” If there is a task that takes under one minute to complete, then do it immediately. Examples of these kinds of tasks would be opening your mail and throwing away the junk, hanging up your coat and putting away your shoes when you get home, and placing your clothes in the hamper after showering. Following this rule will declutter your life, get those small tasks off your mind, and make you feel more productive!

Happier has taught us that there are small, practical ways we can improve and be happier without becoming overwhelmed. Remember, happiness is attainable, you are equipped to deal with negative people, and boosting your productivity can be done in just one minute! Let me know what you do to boost your happiness!

Makayla

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How to Be More Courageous, Intentional, and Self-Loving

Think about Ron Stoppable from the Kim Possible TV series (if you’ve never seen it, here’s the link to buy an episode for $3.00). Ron is completely friend zoned by Kim from day one, but they’re still best friends. They go on all sorts of adventures saving the world from villains… And Ron is terrified the whole time. He’s afraid to fight, afraid to take chances and risks, and afraid to tell Kim how he feels. Gathering the courage to have the life you want is often paralyzing and seemingly impossible, but there are people who do it everyday. 

Aileen Xu, the creator of The Lavendaire Lifestyle is one of those people. The Lavendaire Lifestyle is a podcast about personal growth and lifestyle design. Although Aileen wasn’t friend zoned and saving the world from villains, she was paralyzed by fear, confusion, and self-doubt that took a long time for her to overcome. Aileen’s goal is to help her listeners become artists of life by inspiring them to go after what they truly want. Like I mentioned last week in my post about Megan Tan’s Podcast (Life as Millennials: 4 Concepts We’re Too Familiar With), there are things I don’t agree with Aileen on, but her stories are relatable for people who are just starting out and want to be inspired, motivated, and receive a little advice too.  

I listened to 15 episodes of The Lavendaire Lifestyle this week. The first eleven episodes are more structured. They all begin with a story and from there Aileen gives pieces of advice for those types of situations. After those first 11 episodes, they become less structured and she brings on more guest speakers (who are all very interesting!). Aileen tends to give advice that is supposed to fit everyone, but there were some bits I didn’t think were applicable to my life. And that’s okay! This podcast was still entertaining and I was able to snag some of her thoughts that I thought were genuinely profound. You can listen to this podcast on Audible or CastBox.

Here are the main themes I found in the 15 episodes of The Lavendaire Lifestyle that I listened to:

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Have Courage

The first episode of The Lavendaire Lifestyle was about being stronger than your fears and insecurities. Let’s be real, everyone had fears and anxieties about things. Aileen suggests that we let our fears guide us! This was a very different piece of advice than anything I’d been given before. Basically, if you’re scared to do something, then it’s probably what you need to be doing. Facing your fears is how you grow because you’re not going to accomplish anything new or different while in your comfort zone. 

Part of having courage is acknowledging that you have gifts. You have to be strong enough to say, “Here I am! I can do this!” Obviously you can still be humble and continue to better yourself and your abilities, but take pride in the fact that you have something to offer the world. We all do. Sometimes we just have to “fake it till you make it!” Aileen suggests that we can have courage just by pretending we have it. Simply show up, believe in yourself, don’t overthink it, and have the mindset that anything can be figured out.

Be Intentional

The second theme is being intentional. Every morning when you wake up, you have the power to say, “Today is going to be a good day, regardless of what happens.” One of the guest speakers on the show mentioned that thoughts are like clothes. You can try on different thoughts to see how they make you feel. If they “look bad” or make you feel frumpy, then you can take them off and try on another thought. I absolutely loved that idea, because it shows that thoughts are not permanent and we have the ability to control how we think about different situations. We just need to be intentional about them. 

We can also be intentional about the way we think about others. Everyone you meet is a human being that makes mistakes. Since that is the case, there’s always going to be someone that you don’t particularly like or get along with. People will say things that make you angry and upset, but you can’t control what they say and do. You can only be intentional about the way you respond.

Self-Love

There’s a common misconception that you have to hit rock bottom before you can start working on personal development and self-love. That is entirely untrue! Practicing self-love allows you to grow as a person and be honest with yourself. It helps you answer questions like, “What do I truly want in life?” Aileen explains that we have to be honest with ourselves in order to answer this question, and we can’t put on a mask. One of the most profound insights I gained from this podcast was that “you are you naturally, without even trying.” So what does being you look like? Are you constantly trying to play a role, or are you genuinely you?

Another major part of self-love Aileen mentions is loving your body. Easier said than done, but she points out that we need to be grateful for our bodies because they’ve always supported us even if we don’t treat them as well as we should. So how can we care for our bodies without setting extreme fitness and diet goals?

  1. Find a way to move that gets you excited.
  2. Give in order to receive. This means thinking of food as fuel and recognizing what your body needs so it can support you.
  3. Give your body the time, attention and care it needs. Don’t put yourself last. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.

The Lavendaire Lifestyle isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay! The point is to find something that gives you courage, helps you be intentional, and promotes self-love. If Ron Stoppable can find his way, so can you.

Makayla

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