Communication ChaosWhen I was a teenager, I had a really difficult time communicating with adults…especially women. My mom and I had an especially hard time understanding each other. On a typical day, I would come home from a long, grueling day at school full of monotonous monologues about math and a slew of tired teachers who constantly demanded silence and attention from us, the restless pupils. Upon returning home, my mom would usually ask the question, “how was your day?” In response to this question, I would usually throw out a “good” or “fine” believing those to be satisfactory ways to describe my day. However, this was never enough information for my mom. She would want to know what my teachers were talking about, who I sat next to in class, what I had for lunch, so on and so forth.

My mom loves me very much, and any loving mother expresses her care through concern for her child. Of course, I understand that now, but as a teenage boy that concern was largely identified as prying and excessive questioning. As far as I was concerned, by telling my mom that the day at school was “good” I summed up all the necessary information for that day. It was essentially the same as all the other days—I showed up, drooled on the desk and came home.

I’m now 23 years old and I’m not too far removed from those days of mother-son misunderstanding. I’ve learned a lot in recent years about gender communication that I believe has been extremely helpful for my relationship with my mom, as well as the female population in general.

Newsflash—boys and girls are different. So it makes sense that our communication styles are going to be different as well. By understanding some of these core differences, I think that the relationships we cherish the most (mother-son, husband-wife, or father-daughter) can be made stronger.

I think that a really helpful way to understand the key difference in the communication style of boys and girls lies in understanding the difference the way each gender processes information. Since we are in the age of the internet, I’ll use some tech-lingo to make an analogy of this defining difference.

You know how you take the cursor (the little arrow thingy on the screen) and can put it on some words and it remains an arrow and you can put it on other words and it turns into a little hand? Well, boys are like the words that leave the arrow and arrow and girls are like the words that turn the arrow into the hand. If you try to click on something that is not a link, it doesn’t do anything. It is what it is. It says what it says. That’s how boys are. Girls, however, are like those hyper-links. They say one thing, but once you put the arrow over it, the arrow transforms into a hand that can click on the words and it transports you into a whole different web-page where there very well may be a billion more links.

What I’m saying is that a boy processes information linearly. It is a straight, direct, idea-to-idea process. A girl processes information in more of a web fashion. One idea could lead to a multitude of ideas in many different directions. This is one of the reasons why a girl is typically interested in details. The way she is processing information is leading her to ask tangent questions stemming from the original subject. Meanwhile, a boy in a comparable situation would be satisfied with limited information because the details of the particular subject would not be necessary to the linear flow of his thought-processing.

So, when you’re in a difficult communication situation with the opposite gender, remember that there are some significant communicative differences that are inherent for each gender. The differences can cause friction and misunderstanding. However, if we take time to recognize the differences and adjust our communication accordingly, we can complement each other and our relationships will be strengthened.