Back in 1992 Dr. Gray provided an easy way to understand how men and women communicated differently. Back then if we wanted better relationships, we were encouraged to learn the other’s dialect so we could speak the same language. Now, in 2011, we understand the research behind why we communicate differently. The message is now more urgent than ever. Not only are women not climbing the corporate ladder, but our actions of forcing women to assimilate into a man’s communication pattern cause irreversible damage to women’s bodies, and the families we are currently growing. It is imperative for a cultural shift to occur in the corporate world from the unexamined assumption and unrealistic expectation men and women should be treated the same. Dr. John Gray’s latest books explain the reasoning and research behind why men and women communicate differently based on our physiology, specifically the ways our bodies respond differently to stress, and solutions to keep our stress levels low.
Did you know when women are at work they produce testosterone just like men? Testosterone does not reduce women’s stress levels; women need oxytocin to do this. Men reduce their stress by producing testosterone. However, to reduce stress it takes longer for men to produce more testosterone in greater quantities than the oxytocin hormone women need to reduce stress. Men don’t have enough time to replenish their testosterone, and excess testosterone in women’s bodies and their penchant to care for everyone else before themselves first prevents women from producing the requisite oxytocin to banish low grade stress/cortisol in the body.
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The easiest way for men to increase testosterone is relax their muscles by sitting down. Also, when men disengage and either “do nothing” or shift gears to another task they are producing testosterone. Asking a man to do something during this time when the stress-producing hormone, cortisol, is pumping through his veins increases his stress hormone cortisol, thus stopping testosterone production. After a stressful situation at work men must be left alone, rather than talk it out. Typically, men will resurface and reappear when they have done nothing or temporarily shifted gears (remember this replenishes their stress-reducing hormone testosterone). It is then they are able to talk and put forth a solution to the problem.
For women, when under stress, they reduce stress by talking it out, connecting, and releasing their emotions. This is counter-intuitive if they are dealing with a male co-worker. Likewise, if women are allowed to verbally work through the stressor sifting all the factors, oxytocin kicks in, cortisol exits her body, and she keeps going. This often makes men uncomfortable, because men tend to solve problems if a dilemma is aired. Women under stress do not need or want solutions. Women’s limbic system activates under stress making them more emotional. At work this is seen as unprofessional, but this is the way women are wired. And, their unique serotonin brain patterns under stress allows them at the same time to be more capable of problem-solving by multi-tasking and linking all facets of the problem to everyone involved in the decision-making process.