When it comes to the way men and women think, they couldn’t be more different, says Andy Cope, author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence who gives advice on how to work with it
I love the fact that the original Barbie included the sentence, “Gee, maths class is tough”. Sadly, in later models, this was deleted, but if you have any sense of political incorrectness left intact, that’s very funny. I bet Ken had the equivalent ‘I’m home Honey. Where’s my dinner?’
Imagine an emotional ocean – women are tossed about on mountainous seas, while men sail serenely across calmer water.
This delicious naughtiness was unquestioned until about the mid-1980s. Of course, we now live in an era of equality, an age when girls do engineering and boys do cooking. However, I can’t help feeling that this is riding roughshod across our natural instincts. You see, emotionally, women and men are wired differently. The emotional intelligence headline news is that women experience higher highs and lower lows. Imagine an emotional ocean – women are tossed about on mountainous seas, while men sail serenely across calmer water.
So, here for your delectation are four problems and four solutions:
Humans are programmed to connect with each other. We are all logging onto each other’s emotional wifi, reading the signals of body language, what was said and the nuances of eye contact and facial expression. But women have a stronger emotional wifi. They are picking up more signals (including things that men don’t notice, such as what wasn’t said) and this is creating emotional overload in females.
women have a stronger emotional wifi. They are picking up more signals (including things that men don’t notice, such as what wasn’t said)
What to do instead
We’re in a perpetual state of communication, reading people, intuiting, stepping into their minds, assuming and sensing. Indeed, you cannot not communicate. I love Nigel Short’s account of how to maintain a healthy atmosphere at home. When something is said that is out of turn, maybe voices are raised with your teenager and they accidentally say something that hurts you, instead of reacting, let it pass. In cricketing parlance Nigel says that sometimes it’s best to “let that one go through to the wicket-keeper.” It’s a beautiful analogy. In cricket, you don’t have to smash every ball. Sometimes it’s best for all concerned that you let that one pass harmlessly and start again. This ties in with the point below…
Cows chew the cud and women ruminate. It’s the same thing except one involves eating and the other thinking. Cows digest their food 3 times, as do women with information. This can cause ‘over-thinking’ and, at worst, depression.
What to do instead
Weirdness alert! Be aware that your emotions aren’t real, as in emotions are not a ‘thing’. Emotions feel real enough but they don’t have a shape, a form or a mass. You can’t put an emotion in a wheelbarrow and cart it around. Emotions can only ever come from one place – your thinking. I know this is advanced ninja level, but you’re not really feeling your emotions, you’re feeling your thinking (I know, it’s tricky, bear with me). Emotions have less to do with what’s happening to you and more to do with how you’re thinking about what’s happening to you. It isn’t being stuck in the traffic that’s irritating you, it’s your thinking about being stuck in the traffic. It isn’t your lazy partner that’s causing you to grind your teeth, it’s your thinking about your partner.
The science of emotional intelligence basically tells us what we already knew – women are modern day superheroes.
I could go further and suggest that your entire reality is created by your thinking but, hey, I’ve reserved that for my new book. It’s comforting (and ever so slightly frustrating) to know that you are only ever one thought away from happiness. The solution to feeling amazing is to learn to rethink how you think. Happiness is very much an inside job!
It’s comforting (and ever so slightly frustrating) to know that you are only ever one thought away from happiness.
3. The ‘Emotional Broker’
Female’s emotional acuity means that the modern world is demanding more of them (a stellar career in engineering, for example) without allowing them to let go of their traditional role of family ‘emotional broker’. It is the mum who knows the names of their children’s friends, and their mum’s names too. It’s likely that the female is the social glue that holds relationships together.
What to do instead
The science of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence: How to Flourish in a Crazy World basically tells us what we already knew – women are modern day superheroes. Normal on the outside but with special powers that enable them to tune into the nuances of relationships and glean extra information that men just don’t see. And with all superpowers, it’s a blessing and a curse. As for what to do differently? In this case, absolutely nothing. Rejoice that you have more sensory acuity than 50 per cent of the population. Revel in it. You are a combo of Wonder Woman (indestructible bracelets, lasso of truth) and Nanny McPhee (ability to command discipline and respect, at least on a good day).
4. The 6 O’clock Crash
If females are the social glue and the emotional broker, it’s no wonder therefore that you experience the ‘6 o’clock crash’ – coming home from work, exhausted, in the knowledge that your evening’s work is about to begin.
it takes about 4 minutes for everyone else to catch your emotions, so you haven’t got to be awesome forever
What to do differently?
A couple of quick wins here. Firstly, chill. You’re home. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Refocus away from your ‘to-do’ list, towards your ‘to-be’. Ask yourself, ‘who am I being while I’m going about the things on my to-do list?’ By spooky coincidence, your best self will achieve more and your family will feel inspired so they’re more likely to chip in.
it takes about four minutes for everyone else to catch your emotions, so you haven’t got to be awesome forever, just for four minutes.
One of the best techniques I ever learned was what Steve McDermott calls ‘the 4-minute rule’. Basically, it takes about four minutes for everyone else to catch your emotions, so you haven’t got to be awesome forever, just the first four minutes. Ask your kids/partner about the highlight of their day. Listen (properly), then when the feel-good factor has been raised, allocate some tasks to them and you never know, you might actually avoid the 6 o’clock crash.
Andy Cope is co-author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence: How to Flourish in a Crazy World
For more information see artofbrilliance.co.uk
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