Men and women process information very differently. Women often think out loud, sharing their process with any interested listener. Men, before they talk, silently mull over or think about what they have heard or experienced.
Women tend to process things by talking them through. Men tend to process things by thinking.
A female brain is organised for multi-tracking – she can juggle four or five balls in the air at the same time. Multi-tracking can even occur in a single sentence. Here's a slightly exaggerated example …
BILL: “Is Sue coming over for Christmas?”
DEBBIE: “Sue said she’ll come depending on how things go with carpet orders which have slowed down because of the economy and Fiona may not come because Andrew has to see a specialist and Nathan has lost his job too so he has to get a new one and Jodi can’t get time off work – her boss is so tough! – so Sue said she could come down early and we could go dress shopping for Emma’s wedding and I though that if we put her and Len in the visitors bedroom we could ask Ray to arrive early so …”
BILL: “Does that mean ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
DEBBIE: “Well, it also depends on whether Diana’s boss Adrian will give her time off work because his car is off the road and she has too ….”
Bill thought he had asked a simple question and he would have been happy with a simple answer like ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Instead, he got a multi-tracked answer involved 9 different subjects and 11 people. He feels frustrated and goes outside to water the garden.
Both men and women talk to convey or gather information. Women also talk to explore and discover what it is she wants to say. Women often talk in order to feel better when upset, while men often stopping talking when upset. Women talk to create intimacy too. Women often talk when they are stressed, using conversation to process their feelings, while men can tend to withdraw into silence when they are stressed.
All of these examples and illustrations are generalisations and there are always exception but learning about the differences so we can understand each other better is essential to healthy relationships … for men and women.