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Why men don’t listen to women  …… a subject to amuse or to get to the bottom of?

Well it certainly made David and I laugh.

I have lost track of the number of times a woman has shared her experience of being in a meeting with mainly, or all, male participants, and has presented a new idea or provided input only to have it completely ignored. Not only that, but later on, a male colleague has put forward the same idea and had a very different response with people agreeing that it is good input and accepting it as a valuable contribution.  Women also experience the issue of being spoken over in gatherings or simply not being heard. Yes I know it is annoying but what is happening here? Why are women not being listened to?   Why do our voices get lost and why can’t men hear us?

This is not a blame-throwing conversation  …… for me it is an interesting enquiry so I put the question to Dr David Paul in our continuing conversation on feminine leadership. In this sixth video in the series, David gives a surprising response. Most women will say that men tune out women’s voices because they are not interested in what we are saying. There may be an element to that and David talks about why this is.   Surprisingly, both genders are not wired to listen (Ladies … apparently, we are not blameless!)

It’s clear to me that as we take on world change we need to work side by side with men so we have to start cleaning up our communication on both sides so that we can hear and understand each other if we are to make any progress at all.

Following what David said, I have done some ferreting around and have unearthed some fascinating research…..

I had heard about the idea that men apparently process female voices in the auditory section of the brain, which also handles music but I’d not found the source of the research. It seems the University of Sheffield have done studies where researchers played recordings of male and female voices for a test group of males.  What they found was that there were startling differences in the way men deciphered male and female voices in different parts of their brains. Their website says:  “The female voice is actually more complex than the male voice and has greater natural melody. When a man hears a female voice, his brain analyzes the different sounds, in order to ‘read’ the voice and determine the auditory face.”  In other words, when a female is talking, it’s not that a man isn’t listening to what she’s saying, it’s that he’s hearing it in a different way and processing it like music.

Ah, well that explains everything !!! ……. And yet it doesn’t quite because David highlighted other research which accounts for why older men in particular don’t hear and it is to do with aging. (Watch the video)

When you search around the web about this question of men not listening to women you will come up with some hilarious blogs from men bemoaning the fact that their wives are always exasperated with them. This plea made me laugh:   “Women have a bad habit of changing the topic of conversation halfway through the conversation – and sometimes halfway through a sentence. The woman knows she has changed the subject, but she doesn’t deign to inform the man. She then has the audacity to shake her head at the man when he says ‘What was that?’  Look at it from the man’s point of view. One minute you are talking about the color of your hair and as you are speaking you look out of the window and see a plant peeking up through the snow. It is a plant you have decided to get rid of. Out loud you say, ‘That’ll have to come out.’ Can you blame the man for saying, ‘What was that?’“.     (Thanks to Jeff Kaley on ThirdAge)

Hands up if you have ever done that ……. me! ……..  and my Mum does it too ……  it can drive me nuts 🙂  Like mother like daughter I bet you are saying? I’m thinking people in glass houses should not throw stones!  LOL

The bottom line:  I think it is clear, for a variety of reasons, that we have our work cut out, not only in trying to understand each other but to even hear each other in the first place!

Listen to what David Paul suggests as one way to improve our conversation with men. (CLICK HERE to watch the video)

Here is a transcript of the conversation on the video.
David asks: who is it that listens to the children? It’s the mother.  Fathers, who are absent because of work, they don’t know what is going on in the home (to the same extent as the mother). There are fathers who are more hands-on and who do listen, but the one who really listens to the emotions of the children and their needs is the mother.

David said that there is a biological fact which determines that men do not hear the higher registers of women’s voices. Successful political women leaders learn to develop deeper voices to add gravitas to what they say. Margaret Thatcher and Julia Gillard are two examples.

Men over the age of 45 lose the ability to hear the pitch of higher notes in women’s voices.  Women’s voices tend to get higher when they are excited, stressed or anxious. If women want to make an important point,  then they need to drop the register of the voice.

I have learnt to speak directly to a man’s face instead of making a throw away comment across the room. I emphasise just one point and make an effort to ensure that I am heard.

Women can multitask wonderfully, they can cook, they can talk on the phone, they can sort out problems,  while men have to shut the door with a do not disturb sign and cook alone.    Women need to respect and understand that difference.
When we multitask and don’t focus, the men interpret that as something not being important.  We have to be specific and direct with what we communicate.

Women tend to give out a lot of instructions. It is important not to over instruct the men:
* Make one point
* make it clear
* make it important

We have to break the paradigms that men can’t listen and women just banter.
We need a deeper understanding of how different we are and to honour and respect those differences. We must not disrespect each other so that we can have better communication. Let’s work with our strengths instead of putting down each other for our weaknesses.

Women need to work side-by-side with men.  There are centuries of learning that we need to harness so that we can actually get on.  Feminine Wisdom is a huge force on the planet:  we need to tap into this in a way that has not been tapped into before. And the wisdom of older women is an important resource on the planet.  Older women seem not to be of use to a society obsessed by youth.  What role is there for older women?

Please leave your comments and do share your take on this subject as well as any amusing stories or exasperations you would like us to enjoy 🙂    Yes it is a serious subject but we might as well have a giggle and enjoy the new insights that we discover and start applying to our lives.