Do Women Listen & Understand More Than Men?

by Jay Deragon on 04/08/2014

deleteWomen often accuse men of not listening. Men usually get defensive and argue they do. We’ve all experienced this argument but the scientific facts support the women.

In a world of constant change being able to interpret the meaning of change is more important than reacting to the change. Men tend to draw conclusions based on limited data while women tend to seek a fuller understanding before concluding the meaning of change. Sometimes “drawing a quick conclusion” misses important information that when “heard or seen” could be revealing significant developments. In business and in our personal lives it is the significant developments that can change everything.  After all innovation usually comes from looking outside what is typically the “right view” and finding and alternative view.

Viewing things as they seem and in the current context is the wrong view for a world in a constant state of flux.

Many organizations simply delete alternative views when the view doesn’t fit their frame of reference. The better view is not to delete rather to assimilate with an eye on finding the meaningful noise lying within the data.

Kevin Dunbar, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, illustrated our reflexive reaction to being wrong with brain scans that should make any would-be innovator turn cold.  As this Wired profile of Dunbar explains, that’s like the brain’s “delete” key. Now, as any editor can tell you, a delete key is a wonderful gift: by cutting out the chaff (of prose, of data, of life) we can see the wheat that much more clearly. The brain’s process of filtering is what helps us pay attention. But for a scientist — or anyone in the business of discovery — if you habitually mentally delete anomalous data, how can you learn from it?

(Ladies, the news is slightly better for you: Dunbar noticed a gender split in his research. Women were more likely than men to investigate unexpected findings, while men were more likely to assume they knew the reason for the unexpected result, and proceed without more analysis.)

Being Right, Wrong And In Between

People have strong opinions based on their experience, position and assumed knowledge. When is comes to deciding courses of action for improving a result everyone seems to have an opinion. Some are right, some are wrong and the answer usually lies somewhere in between.

Finding the in between isn’t easy. The answer isn’t always about one parties view versus the other rather the answer is seeing and hearing things together. That means we have to learn to come together in between right and wrong to find a solution.  It is becoming more and more clear that women who have a seat, and a voice, at the table can see in between better than men.

Don’t believe or understand why this is true? Then you are likely a man seeing only half of the solution.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: