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The Mistakes Men Make about Women

By Bob Smallwood

Men often assume that the things that motivate them will motivate women just as effectively. They don't. Not only does a woman have a different view of the world, she has a measurably different brain that works in a different way.

Not so many years ago, saying that men and women's brains are different was non-PC. Radical feminists maintained that all differences were the result of early conditioning. Fortunately, the differences in structure and activity have now been proven by solid science. One demonstration that impresses me is the mirror tracing test. This is simply tracing the outline of an object, the twist being that the object, hand, pencil and paper are seen through a mirror. A right-handed male usually freezes solid for a while, until his confused brain has laboriously sorted out which way to move his hand. The left side of the brain controls the right hand but a man can only do spatial processing with his right brain. Women don't have these problems as their more flexible brains can do spatial processing on either side. Men have generally better spatial processing but they can only do one thing at a time and communication between the two halves of the brain is restricted.

Hopefully, society has moved on and we are trying to get the best out of both sexes by recognizing that equality is not sameness. Rubies and sapphires can be equally attractive, but they are hardly the same!

What turns men on and women off? There are five big areas that appeal to men but are turn-offs for women:

  • Competition
  • Violence
  • Risk
  • Cold logic
  • Obsession

Competition, beating the other guy or team, is a prime motivator for men. If there is nobody to compete with, it may not get done at all. One guy on a desert island will sleep in a cave. Put a few guys on the island and they will compete for best hut. Although some women are very competitive, they don't compete directly. Men struggle to understand that a woman believes that she is competing with herself, even when someone else has set the scoring system. Achieving personal best is crucial, being the best is important; beating the others is a side effect. That's the opposite of a man's priorities.

Violence is action. Action is the automatic male reaction to emergency or threat. It is positive when protecting loved ones from wild animals, but negative when used as the way to settle an argument. Men express their emotions through action rather than communication. Asking a man to get in touch with his emotions is inviting rage! Teenage boys need to learn to control their natural inclination to violence, some never do. To be socially acceptable, violence and aggression are sublimated into playing or watching sport. A sports fan lives and feels his team's aggression. Not many men watch sport objectively to see the best team win. Violence sells men's films too. Tarantino's work has far less appeal to women.

Risk. You only have to listen to way men and women say the word to get a handle on the different attitudes. To him, risk is spice, challenge, excitement, adrenalin rush. To her, risk is danger, instability, loss of control. Women are better bank employees, follow policy and work more consistently, yet more than 90% of exchange traders are men. Very few women enjoy the high pressure, high risk life of a trader, but men can become literally addicted to the endorphin rush they get when a high-risk trade pays off.

Cold logic. Men emphasize the logic, women the cold. On any problem in the family or at work, a women will chew through all the different opinions and attitudes that the players and even the observers are likely to have, both before and after the implementation of any solution. To a man, it all looks and sounds like a waste of time. The fix is obviously logically correct, so get on and fix it. In his world, emotions take second place to logic. In truth, he lacks the ability to empathize with those involved, so cannot take their feelings into account. So mentally, he minimises their impact and relies on demonstrating the logic of the solution to persuade doubters. He is quite surprised when it doesn't work! Even politicians fall into this trap. Despite their armies of advisers and PR consultants, politicians regularly press for measures that make logical sense but don't work at an emotional level.

Geeks, nerds, birders, plane spotters, storm chasers and music freaks. How many are women? Obsessive collecting, observing, analyzing, refining or dissecting are not favourite female pastimes. More than one woman has remarked that maleness is only one step away from autism. The ability to concentrate on one thing, to the total exclusion of anything else, is a male characteristic. This ability underlies man's greatest achievements (and women's greatest frustrations). Women stay in touch with the real world and easily manage to do several things at once. Men call that multi-tasking and claim it requires a super-computer! Women have hobbies that are useful, social, fun or a mixture of these. Men have obsessions.

Talking of obsessions, it seems the only one that women consistently have is dirt. For women, all dirt is bad, probably disgusting. She may even claim it smells bad when it has no smell at all. Men might not notice the dirt, "a detail". When he does notice it, he finds it unattractive or inconvenient rather than offensive. He might go as far as claiming that dirt from working in the garden or DIY is good, honest dirt: but she will never agree.

Men and women are different and that's part of what makes life interesting. If we tried to understand each other better, life might get a little easier!

Women tell me that Liza Sutton's book "Turn Dreams into Reality - How a Woman can Master Her Destiny" (ISBN-10: 095494870X) works for them because it 'connects' and motivates them in a way that material aimed at men never can. It made me realize just how little I knew about how women think! So be careful, stuff designed to appeal to the other sex could demotivate you completely.

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