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How to Communicate Effectively: Gender Differences in Communication

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

By: Nirmanee R. & Dean H.

Why is Communication Important in a Relationship?

Good communication is one of the most important factors in maintaining healthy relationships. However, it tends to be one of the first elements of a relationship to break down when conflict occurs.

Communication Styles?

Poor communication can lead to ongoing unresolved conflict. This is often the last stage of a dying relationship heading for separation or divorce.

The good news is, there are many ways to avoid this fate. There are many strategies you can try to improve communication between you and your partner. One of these strategies is through understanding your individual processes of communication. This can inform your behaviour in the future, to achieve meaningful and productive conversations that will help you efficiently resolve conflicts.

In this strategy, a factor to consider in relationships is gender differences in processes of communication. This can help you and your partner understand where the other person is coming from. This awareness can help both of you adapt your behaviour to accommodate each other’s needs.

Can't communicate with partner?
How does poor communication affect relationships?

Can't Communicate with Partner?

You may not be able to communicate effectively with your husband due to gender differences in communication styles. Studies show that gender differences in communication styles come down to the goals that each party aims to achieve in approaching a conversation. These goals are usually aimed at resolving conflict.

Research shows women tend to be more social and emotional in conversations. Men tend to be more independent and less emotional. Thus, women approach conversations with the goal of improving the social connection and strengthening the relationship.

Why Can't My Husband and I Communicate?

In contrast to women, men will tend to approach conversations with the goal of achieving tangible outcomes. A male partner will approach a conversation regarding conflict with the aim to come up with solutions for the problem. A female partner, however, will approach the conversation with the aim to understand their partner and convey empathy. This notable difference may be the cause of your communication breakdown.

It can be easy for you to spot these patterns in your own conversations. Women tend to ask more questions in conversations. They seek to know their partner's thoughts and opinions. Men, however, tend to offer statements and suggestions seeking to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Neither party is at fault here. Each of you must seek to understand your partner. Finding a solution to conflict, is important in maintaining a healthy relationship. Neither goal is less important than the other.

It is important to understand that your partner might simply be approaching the conversation with one of these goals. Their needs and values may be different to yours. This might be why you are failing to communicate effectively with each other.

That is not to say that your goals need to be the same to engage in effective communication. In identifying this discrepancy, you can make changes to the way you approach conversations with your partner. This will help acknowledge their needs, lower tensions and open up the conversation. Both of you can then express your thoughts, be heard and come up with a solution to your conflict.

The Importance of Active Listening

Active listening plays an important role in becoming aware of you and your partner’s different communication styles. Once you become aware of these different communication styles you can accommodate for differences.

Why is Active Listening Important?

Active listening is a process of conscious and effective listening.

  1. Be prepared to listen. Try holding back on your instinctual responses and allow time to understand what your partner is saying.

  2. Observe verbal and non-verbal messages that your partner is conveying.

  3. Provide appropriate reflective feedback. This shows you understand what they are saying and allows them to feel heard. More importantly, it allows them to correct your observation if it is inaccurate.

You can participate in active listening at any stage of communication breakdown in your relationship. If your partner is not communicating with you, reflect back on previous conversations. Upon reflection, pinpoint where the discrepancies in communication styles occurred.

The importance of active listening
Why is active listening important?

What to Talk About With My Wife?

As mentioned before, there can be varying signs that gender differences in communication styles are having an impact on your conversations.

For example, you might feel your wife is asking a lot of questions. You might also think that these questions do not contribute positively to resolving the conflict. In actual fact, she might be conveying she needs to know your perspective on the matter. She will then be more likely to be ready to find a solution.

When Your Husband Won't Talk to You

From the female perspective, your husband might be appearing to ignore or avoid your questions. That is because he is trying to focus on mapping out a solution to the conflict. He then will feel that the conflict is resolved and you both can go back to feeling positive about the relationship.

Participating in active listening can help you quickly identify patterns of behaviour. This is because you are present and only listening to them in that moment. Consciously applying these practises can allow both partners to easily adjust their responses to convey their needs. These practises also allow you both to understand and support each other.

How to help rebuild trust in a relationship

Identify gender discrepancies in communication styles between you and your partner. You can then adapt accordingly to help you navigate these differences.

This might include:

  1. Adapting your responses to meet their needs. you For example, if your wife stops talking because you are not answering her questions you can do two things. Answer them, or let her know why you cannot give her an adequate response.

  2. Clearly conveying your needs, so that your partner understands the reasons behind your responses in conversation. For example, if your husband is focused on finding a resolution to an argument, listen to his perspective and what he is feeling. This will help you move to a stage where you can seek a resolution.

  3. If safe and practicable to do so, let your partner know of your observations. They can then also come to an understanding as to why your communication breakdown might be occurring.

What To Do When Communication Breaks Down in a Relationship?

Communication patterns do vary from person to person. If you feel that your individual differences cannot be resolved or identified, you can seek relationship counselling. Through relationship counselling, a therapist can assist you and your partner navigate this process to achieve a resolution.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing difficulty with parenting after separation, support is available. Please contact iflow psychology today or book an appointment. You can book an appointments online, or by calling my friendly admin staff on 02 6061 1144.

iflow psychology offers in-person, telehealth and telephone counselling. We are registered psychologists. We also offer Medicare Rebates when you have a doctors referral and Mental Health Plan. We would love to be part of your journey.

Location Details: iflow psychology is located in Leichhardt Inner West Sydney NSW Australia

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is always advisable to speak with your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives before making decisions. This is particularly important if you feel you are not coping, have health concerns or have existing mental health or medical conditions.

(c) 2022 Dean Harrison

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