Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Is "Man Talk" and What Is "Woman Talk"? (Does It Exist?)

Decades of denial aside, men and women do enjoy discussing different subjects. All gender comments are generalizations, to be sure, but, usually, women are more people-centered and men are more thing—centered. Men enjoy talking about cars, gadgets, tools-about how something is made, how it works, how they can fix it, what its effect is, and how they control it. More intellectual men expand things to include ideas and concepts. But they still discuss how these concepts work, how they can fix them, how they affect the world, and how much power they have over them! Men exchange facts and opinions like trading cards. They like to play "Who can trump whom?" with the cards. This competitive aspect of men's conversation is not advisable for a woman to emulate, but Huntresses, brushing up on sports, politics, cars, and computers increases your chances of communicating well with men. If you learn how to hold your own with some men by bantering about saber saws and power drills, you will be a fascinating lady indeed. When I was in high school, the literature on gender differences was limited to obscure studies, but my mother somehow intuitively knew about the cavernous conversational gap. The boys talked about cars, and the girls talked about boys. That left us girls at a conversational disadvantage on our dates. After a disastrously silent evening with a boy (we called them boys in those days, not guys), I cried in my mother's lap. I told her I couldn't think of anything to talk about and had been frozen with shyness. My mother stroked my hair, dried my tears, and told me she'd have a surprise for me the next day that would help. I believed in Mama and expected a miracle. Even if she had to fly a chunk of the Blarney Stone in from Ireland so I could kiss it and get the gift of gab, she'd pull through for me.
TECHNIQUE #57 (FOR HUNTRESSES): BRUSH UP ON MAN-TALK Take a conversational cruise across the gender gap. Huntresses, become conversant in concepts, politics, objects, big toys, sports, and other male subjects. Show him you're smart, but remember—not too smart. Pull through she did. Better than the Blarney Stone, she bought me a book on cars—all the current models. I became something of an expert on the differences between Chevys, Fords, and Buicks. I could even discuss what went on under the hood. It got so I could keep up my end of the conversation when the subject turned (as it inevitably did) to carburetors, alternators, camshafts, and exhaust manifolds. Mama's book got my self-confidence with boys humming. Huntresses, you may not find discussing cars, facts, sports, business, and politics as interesting as psychology, philosophy, relationships, reactions, and trends, but your Quarry will find you a more intriguing woman if you can hold your own while pitching phenomenons and numbers around with him. A man in one of my seminars told me that the reason he asked his current girlfriend out was because, when they met, they had an engrossing discussion of whether slip-joint or round-nosed pliers would be better to have in a basic tool kit. He added, of course, that he won the argument. Huntresses, you want to be smart in male subjects. But not smarter than your Quarry. Does this sound like outdated fifties retro-pap advice? Of course it does, but it still holds. I learned this the hard way a long time ago. On the evening of my high school prom, my date arrived on my doorstep. He pinned a corsage on my padded bust. I took his arm and we walked to his car. It wouldn't start. Thanks to Mama's book, I suspected the problem. I looked under his hood and made a silent analysis. I then ran out into the street and flagged down a taxi. Not to take us to the dance, but to borrow the driver's jumper cables. Tottering in my first pair of high heels, I attached jumper cables to my date's dead battery and got his car engine purring. I knew he would be impressed. He never called again. I recently told this story to a male friend and, in a truly candid moment, he empathized with my poor humiliated date. Eventual equality aside, some things will never change.
TECHNIQUE #58 (FOR HUNTERS): BRUSH UP ON "WOMAN-TALK" Hunters, make your conversation more psychologically oriented. Converse with your Quarry in terms of people, feelings, philosophy, rationale, and intuition. Be more supportive and less competitive in your insights. Hunters, here's a similar suggestion for you. Generally, women have excellent insights into people, their problems, and their responses to various situations. They often talk about health, the arts, personal growth, and sometimes spiritual subjects. When discussing their work, women are more apt to explore how individuals work together and what constitutes a smooth and supportive work environment, not who's on top and who's on bottom. Learn to thoughtfully probe feelings. Gentlemen, pick up a copy of Psychology Today, a magazine with a readership of intelligent women. It's an excellent way to brush up on what subjects are hot for women. These are generalizations, to be sure. There is always the man who enjoys discussing the deeper aspects of human relationships and the woman who enjoys a tough political argument. You'll spot these rare birds, but they'll be hard to catch. The insightful man will be in the company of beautiful women, and the clever woman will already be dating some heavy hitters.

No comments: