Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #42: LibraryLove October 12, 2010

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps:  How We’re Different And What We Can Do About It

by Allan & Barbara Pease

Book description~ Barbara and Allan Pease traveled the world collating the dramatic findings of new research on the brain, investigating evolutionary biology, analysing psychologists research, studying social change and annoying the locals. The result is WHY MEN DON’T LISTEN AND WOMEN CAN’T READ MAPS, the sometimes shocking, always illuminating, frequently hilarious look at where the battle line is drawn between the sexes, why it was drawn and how to cross it. Revealed: Why men really can’t do more than one thing at a time Why women make such a mess of parallel parking Why men should never lie to women Why women talk so much and men so little WHAT MEN AND WOMEN REALLY WANT A must-read for everyone – you will learn as much about yourself and how to improve your relationships, as you will about the opposite sex.

First, I want to point a disclaimer toward this review:  Please, PLEASE don’t go getting your panties in a twist; by no means am I putting any gender in a box or saying that men never listen or no women can read maps. If you know me, you know my belief system is very liberal and modern. But no matter who you are, you can’t deny that men and women internalize and react to the outside world in different ways.  Yes, my husband is a kick a$$ cook. Yes, I mow the lawn. Yes, I can use power tools. Yes, my husband has the best ironing skills I’ve ever seen. This book isn’t saying men and women can’t challenge traditional gender roles. This book isn’t about putting women and men into ‘their places’ but rather brings the gap between Mars and Venus a bit closer together.

Just for fun, I wanted to share one of the many fun optical illusions from the book! Researcher Edward Boring devised the illustration below to show how we each perceive different things in the same picture. Women are more likely to see an old woman with her chin tucked into the collar of her fur coat, but men are more likely to see the left side profile of a young woman who is looking away. Which did you see? Leave me a comment below and let’s see how many women/men challenge the norm!

What I enjoyed is that authors Allan and Barbara Pease use hard facts (sometimes ad nauseam), research, and interviews from both men AND women to back up their findings. It’s truly fascinating to read about communication for the sexes and I hope this will spark some conversation between you and your significant other tonight. If nothing else, maybe you won’t expect your partner to truly listen to you while watching the game…invest in a DV-R instead or respect your partner when they’re in the middle of something! As I’ve said since its invention; DV-R saves marriages.

As the book calls out, do you wonder: “ why women can brush their teeth while walking and talking on various subjects while men generally find this very difficult to do? Why 99 percent of all patents are registered by men? Why stressed women talk? Why so many husbands hate shopping?” I was so drawn to this book by the funny title and imponderables, I couldn’t wait to make time to check it out. I’m also trying to hammer through a 600-page novel and needed a bit of a palette cleanser. Bottom line, to know me is to know how important communication is in my life. We’ve all had one-sided relationships, miscommunications with friends, significant others, family members, co-workers and even strangers. The way people communicate, or not, is an area of life that fascinates me. Lack of communication, tone of voice, relationship dynamics; I love it all! The older I get, the less effort I’m willing to expend on dysfunctional relationships of all kinds. In turn, the older I get the more I strive to make the most important relationships last the test of time. Setting realistic expectation is key. As you can tell, it was no coincidence I was attracted to the field of Communication, even as a high school student, and as a result, have a college degree in Communication and Public Relations that I find useful as I navigate my world.

Each day we communicate with our body and not just our mouths. An eye roll to a friend; a firm handshake;  the way we sit arms folded. Each of these non-verbal cues illustrates a different feeling. Each person, whether male or female, interprets each of these non-verbal cues differently.

This book delved into the way both the male and female brains, minds, and reactions work. This book also explored ways we can better coexist with the opposite gender by using concrete scientific data studies, examples and practicality. What I loved even more, is that this book was written and then re-written by a husband and wife team over years and years as more advanced research surfaced. This  book highlighted the following realization: many folks in committed relationships do NOT spend enough time understanding their partners as they date, but rush into marriage only for it to end in dissatisfaction from both parties because of communication breakdown. Instead, folks spend way too much time on trying to make their partners someone they are not. If every couple took time to understand their partner’s communication style and needs as this book suggests, I wonder if the divorce rate would improve. Honestly- before you moved in with your partner, did you ask how much time they like to have to unwind when they first get home? Do they like to talk about their day right away? Do they need 30 minutes to unwind? Do they like quiet in the morning or are they chipper? Do they get cranky when they’re hungry? How do they like to be treated when they’re sick?  Do they like to pay bills when the come in the mail or the day they are due? My (now) husband and I most certainly did. Although these items sound petty, these are constant areas of frustration for a lot of couples who just plain fail to communicate effectively.  I often think that an experience my husband and I shared in our first few months of dating, attending a life changing and HILARIOUS performance of Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman at the Warner Theatre back in the winter of 2000, helped propel us on a trajectory of open communication, a solid foundation for marriage, and lighthearted outlet toward understanding one another on a different level. We embrace our differences and find it really hysterical how we joke with each other. Case and point- whenever my husband and I walk into Kohls, the guys stuff is on one side and the girl’s stuff on the other. We hold hands a lot and we have this fun habit of saying to each other “I’m off to gather” or “I’m off to hunt” or “Ready? Set? Break!” and we joke but it’s so true as we each go our separate way. I don’t need you at my hip when I’m trying to look at all the pretty things on the hangers. Everyone likes to have their space to just peruse without being followed like a shadow everywhere.  Then when one of us is done, usually me first, I’ll come find him and we’ll ask for each other’s opinions on a particular item we may like. It’s a fun way to make shopping less of a chore and more of a fun outing when possible.

Conversely, it also makes us sad to observe friends we encounter who regularly speak over their partner in social settings ,  nag their partners, put their partners down, and just generally have ‘poor manners’ when it comes to the person they love the most. Basically, if you’ve ever wished for an instruction booklet on understanding the opposite sex, this is as close as any.

“In England in 1998, John and Ashley Sims created a two-way map that has a standard map view when traveling North and a second upside-down view, with South at the top of the page, for traveling south. IN a national newspaper’s weekend magazine they offered a free map to the first 100 people who wrote in. They received requests from more than 15,000 women- and a handful of men. They told us that men saw no point in an upside-down map, or else thought it was a joke. Women, however, are impressed because it replaced the need for spatial rotation. BMW was the first to install global positioning systems (GPS) visual navigational equipment in their vehicles, which allows for the image to be turned upside down to match the direction the car is traveling. Predictably, it has proved a huge hit with women.”

I read a similar book back in college called Women Are Like Spaghetti, Men Are Like Waffles. This book left a lasting impression on me and a few friends that read this book after me as well.  The idea is that (generally speaking now, don’t go sending hate-mail!) women are like spaghetti- every small thing, conversation, disappointment, success in our lives effect everything else, and the idea that men are like waffles- thinking about life in a compartmentalized, goal-oriented way. No matter who you are, you should spend more time considering the way your words, actions and non-verbal cues are interpreted not only by others but by the opposite sex. I bet it’ll make you reconsider your world!

After you read this book, I highly recommend you ‘YouTube’ a clip of Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman and/or try to see one of Becker’s hilarious live performances.

4.5/5 stars

Sweet relief, 42 down, 10 more to go! The pressure is mounting…

In progress- Cutting for Stone