Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Do You Feel Appreciated?

How do women and men react to criticism?

Dr. John Gray, author of the mega-hit book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus", has a new book out this week called "Work With Me", exploring the differences in communication between men and women.He has some very helpful observations that can be easily applied to daily life both at home and at the office. So many marriages short-circuit after the thrill of the honeymoon fades into memory. The challenges of working as a team to accomplish goals are often insurmountable due to clashes never addressed during courtship. Likewise, men and women thrown together in a business often have trouble collaborating in the boardroom.   Dr. Gray says a big factor in this dissonance is due to the fact that women process information in a diverse way than men. This sex difference plays out in communication in several interesting ways.

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Dr. Gray's research found that 50% of women don't feel appreciated by men, while 90% of men think they are appreciating women. Dr. Gray urges men to overcome this perceptual disconnect by taking the extra time and effort to find out what the women are doing and  let women express themselves.  Men tend to assume that just because a woman is silent that she has no opinion or observations. They don't realize that women are processing a large amount of information. That leads women to feel their contribution to the home or office isn't appreciated, leading to resentment and a downward spiral in relationships.

Dr. Gray's research determined that 90% of men feel irritated, annoyed and frustrated when women ask them  lots of questions about an issue or decision at work or the home. He observed that men tend to mistakenly interpret the flurry of questions as challenging their authority and doubting their decision making.  Then men tend to freeze up and get defensive and no longer hear what the women are saying no matter how valid. Dr. Gray urged women to take this perceptual tendency into account and try less threatening ways of communicating their ideas and interest.

Dr. Gray  says that by realizing the differences in perception between men and women we can prevent mistakes through a thorough sharing of information on a topic or issue at the office or home. The devils advocate is so important to any group. Anything that keeps the wroking group or marriage open to new ideas and new approaches to old problems is to be embraced. These common sense tips  by Dr. Gray can really make a difference. By appreciating each other there will be a positive loop created that will result in better decisions and a feeling of esprit de corps which strengthens relationships, creates loyalty and makes working together toward a common goal more enjoyable.


J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.


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