5 BIG Scientific Differences Between The Way You And He Communicate

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The Way Men & Women Use Body Language

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Especially when it comes to communication.

What are the differences between how men and women communicate? No matter how similar you are to your partner, there are some fundamental differences in the way the sexes communicate through body language.

First, the verbal. Men and women use roughly the same amount of words per day.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that the sexes speak about the same amount of words every day: women at 16,215 words and men at 15,669.

But, here's the kicker: Women tend to talk more about other people, and men tend to talk more about objects in their surroundings.

It's no wonder my husband wants to talk about what kind of phone a new friend has and I want to talk about the new friend.

Next, there's nonverbal preferences that explain the body language differences between the sexes.

1. How we like to be approached

Typically, women like to be approached from the front, and don't like having someone come up behind them and tap them on the shoulder. Researchers think this is about protection.

When a woman can see who is approaching her, she is able to suss them out before a conversation and get a grasp on her safety. Personally, I know being approached from behind feels a little threatening, even when you are in a friendly place.

Men prefer to be approached from the side or at an angle because it's less aggressive. The front approach is more like charging at someone.

So, if you want to approach a man, sidle up to him. And if you want to approach a woman, come up to her from the front so she can see you coming.

Bonus: On average, women have to make 13 direct eye gazes before her intended approaches. If you're a woman in the dating environment, don't be afraid to make your intentions known.

2. How we interpret nodding

Nodding is an interesting non-verbal behavior and men and women typically do so for very different reasons. When a man nods, he is trying to show agreement. When a woman nods, she is trying to show she is listening and wants the speaker to continue. 

When I first read that study, I was flabbergasted. I had no idea that a man would think I was agreeing with him if I was nodding. I nod to show encouragement, not agreement. Don't get confused.

If you are listening to a man, don't nod if you don't agree. If you are listening to a woman and you want to show her you are listening, nod.

Bonus: Use the power of the triple nod. Studies have shown that people will speak 3 to 4 times longer if you do three slow nods in a row when they have finished speaking. It's like a nonverbal "..."

So, when someone finishes their statement, look them in the eye and nod three times as if to say, "keep going." They often will continue and you end up having a much deeper conversation.

3. How we use touch

Touch can be a tricky nonverbal area. Some people love to be touched and to show affection, while others have strict personal zones.

There is a major difference between the sexes: Women use touch for camaraderie and men use touch for signals of power.

Touch can do both: insert power and build connection — it all depends on how you use it. After the initial handshake or greeting is where men and women really use touch differently.

Women tend to reach out and touch someone's arm or forearm, or give a hug to build connection and show support. Men (even subconsciously) will pat someone on the back to show dominance or place a hand on a shoulder to show superiority or control.

Be aware that pats, back slaps and shoulder touches can be a way to show dominance. Use them carefully. If you are touched lightly on the forearm by a woman, she wants to build connection–this could be professionally, socially or romantically.

Bonus: Touch is great, but only when you use it properly. To do this, you have to know the touch map.

Here is the rule of thumb you want to remember: The further towards the center of the body, the more intimate the level of touch. So the hand, forearm and elbow are safe areas, and better for professional settings. The head and torso should only be used with people you are extremely close with.

4. How we show non-verbal encouragement

When listening to someone, do you show nonverbal encouragement? Nonverbal encouragement signs include leaning forward, nodding, tilting your head, eye contact, and saying, "Uh huh," "Hmm," or, "Interesting."

Women are trained from a young age to give a lot of nonverbal encouragement, whether they agree with what is being said or not. However, men don't think it's as necessary. This can come across to women as cold or unemotional.

Men: To show a woman you are listening, try doing some of the nonverbal encouragement signs above, especially if you've ever been told you are stand-offish or imposing.

Women: Don't take it personally if a man doesn't give you nonverbal encouragement. It might not come as naturally to them.

Bonus: If you have to deliver bad news, use the head tilt while speaking. The head tilt is a universal gesture of engagement, so it tells people you are warm, approachable and empathetic.

5. How we use our vocal range

If you talk on the phone a lot you may have noticed how differently the sexes sound. Women typically use 5 different vocal tones when speaking. This gives them more range and makes them more of a pleasure to speak to, but it also makes them sound more emotional. This is not always a benefit in the business world. 

Women's voices also rise under stress. When women get tense they can sound squeaky or high-pitched. Men have a much deeper vocal range and typically use only 3 tones while speaking.

Ladies, keep your vocal chords relaxed to sound more professional in professional environments. Men, if you want to sound more emotional and warm, try varying your vocal range during stories.

Bonus: You can stay in your lowest natural vocal range by taking a deep breath in and then slowly letting it out as you relax your shoulders, neck and head. Do it again, and this time say hello on your out breath.

It's impossible to speak in your higher range when your shoulders and vocal chords are relaxed. And that's what you want.

If you find yourself getting nervous and your voice begins to crack, take a deep breath and speak on the out breath, as you lower your shoulders. This will drop you down into a more mature tone.

Men and women also show many different cues during courtship and romance. Check out our course, Body Language of Love and Dating. Find relationship success with the nonverbal science of seduction and learn the subtle romantic signs to decode your date with The Science of Attraction, The Nonverbal Science of Flirting, and Use Body Language to Build a Connection.

ScienceofPeople.com is a human behavior research lab. Their science-based strategies will help you understand the hidden forces that drive our behavior.