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Communication Breakdown

Communication Breakdown

Men and women have very different styles of communication.  I know, newsflash, right?  Let me break it down and offer some tips to improve communication between the sexes.  There are four major differences in communication between men and women, in my personal experience. 

The first is the difference between internal and external processors.  Do you think out loud and change your opinion as you come up with different arguments for or against your position, or do you mull over a situation and only speak when your opinion is fully formed?  If you think out loud, you’re an External Processor.  If you keep your mouth shut until your opinion is fully formed, you’re an Internal Processor.  Most women are External Processors (EPs) and most men are Internal Processors (IPs). It’s not 100% true, but let’s assume for a moment it is.  

IPs are very confused by the running dialogue of EPs.  They can’t keep up with us, and they’ll latch onto something we say as if it was The Word.  Then, ten minutes later when we have a New Word, they feel left in the dust.  An example of this would be an EP debating with herself about where to go to dinner.  It would look like a conversation with her partner, but she’s really thinking out loud.  She’ll say, “how about Italian?”  He’ll say, “That’s great.”  She’ll say, “No, I had Italian for lunch.  What about Indian?” Then she might remember the last time she went to that Indian restaurant, the service was awful.  So she’ll suggest something else.  Meanwhile, her IP partner’s head is spinning!

EPs, on the other hand, become frustrated by the silence of IPs, and we’ll come to our own conclusions about what’s really going on inside their maddeningly silent IP heads.  By the time the IP finishes the internal dialogue and comes out with their opinion, the EP usually feels so emotionally disconnected because of the silence she can’t even hear what the IP has to say. 

How can you overcome these style differences?  Figure out what type you are, and know that your partner is the opposite type.  Trust me, it’s one of the little cosmic jokes the Universe likes to play.  Then explain this to your partner, so that you each have an understanding of how your thought processes work.  That way, he’ll be less likely to latch onto the First Word, and you’ll be less likely to sulk because he’s thinking.


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