Have you ever had a conversation with a client, spouse or friend that left you saying, “You just don’t understand”?
Men and women are definitely wired differently in terms of how they communicate. Understanding these differences can improve both your business and personal communication.
Eye contact image via Shutterstock.
Last month at the Awesome Females in Real Estate conference, Debbie Ashbrook of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC gave a talk based upon the book, “Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti.” While there are always exceptions to the rule, Ashbrook’s premise struck a strong chord with the all-female audience.
In short, “men are like waffles” references the fact that men tend to compartmentalize. To illustrate this point, think of a waffle. The man starts in one “box” or compartment in the waffle. He needs to resolve what is in that compartment before going on to the next idea or concept.
On the other hand, “women are like spaghetti” references how women tend to start a train of thought and then let it run without a break, much like a strand of spaghetti.
It’s easy to see how this can be a point where male-female communication breaks down. Men often become frustrated when women launch into a stream of multiple ideas, while other women have no problem following the conversation. Conversely, women become frustrated when they have to backtrack to explain a previous point they thought they had already covered.
To communicate more effectively with your clients, follow these four suggestions:
1. Ask probing questions. Ideally, your male clients should talk about 80 percent of the time.
2. Be direct. Use bullet points and avoid rambling.
3. When you’re tempted to interrupt or finish a man’s sentence, take a sip of water and count to three.
4. Supply your male clients with additional data until they are ready to go on to the next topic.
Waffling on time
A classic example of “waffle vs. spaghetti” occurs in terms of how male and female clients approach time. Men normally allot a certain amount of time to each task. If you exceed that amount of time, you are cutting into time that has been allocated to something else.
Women, on the other hand, focus on task completion rather than the time it takes. To illustrate this point, consider the differences in how most men and women shop. A man typically decides what he wants and sets out to buy it. He will walk into the store, decide on the item he wants, try it on if necessary, pay for it and leave.
A woman, on the other hand, may find the perfect dress in the first store where she looks. Nevertheless, she will continue to shop until she has verified that there is not a better deal or a better dress out there somewhere.”
Consequently, it’s smart to start your showings on time and always end early. In terms of when you tell clients when you will complete something, always tell them that it will take longer than you anticipate. The result of taking these two steps is that by finishing on time or early, you appear efficient and organized.