Both Men and Women Tend and Mend People With Problems But Start Out Differently! Part 2

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In part 1 we discussed many of the different gender traits in men and women, proven by science and recognized by most, including Hollywood. These differences are the core reasons why men and women approach problems differently, in the way they tend and mend others. But is it possible that these differences can actually complement each other, rather than conflict with each other, when it comes to men and women approaching problems together?

When Men and Women Get Together

It has been said, when women get together with women, they talk about things important to them as women.

When men get together they talk about things important to them as men.

But when men and women get together as couples they talk about things that are of interest to neither! Though a joke, there is truth here because usually before the evening is over the three women are chatting in their huddle and the three men are interacting in theirs.

In marriage, most wives wish to connect with their husbands to give the report to build rapport, and that report consists of communicating her concerns about the people in her life. She enjoys doing this regularly with her husband. How many husbands can hardly wait to get home to give the report to build rapport? Fewer than women desire.

Do men not talk about people? A man going through a divorce will talk incessantly about his marriage and family. And, a man feeling insecure in relationship to his wife will tend to move toward her to talk. A woman just promoted to chair the finance committee will talk about the fiscal concerns and pull out the spreadsheets and discuss her plan for the future. And, a woman wounded by her husband will stay quiet. I can come up with countless exceptions but I have still seen the core point remain true.

Both Men and Women Tend and Mend

Here's the beautiful blending of male and female in business and life in general.

As I wrote at the beginning of part 1, a woman tends and mends people with problems. A man tends and mends problems that people have.

There it is! Both tend and mend.

But they start in different places.

Because she is a caring person who loves people, she first respects the person's feelings. She begins there. She hopes that as she empathizes with the person, this person can now be emotionally validated and affirmed to work on solving the problem.

Because he is an honorable man who respects people, he first loves to solve the problems causing the person's feelings. He begins there. He hopes that as he provides a solution to the problem, this person can now feel better about moving forward.

Empathy-Oriented Versus Solution-Oriented

I see most women as empathy-oriented and most men solution-oriented. Neither are wrong, just different in where they begin. Both tend and mend but they approach the person and problem in a different order.

For instance, when a sister calls from New York with a major problem in her marriage, the sister she calls will empathize first. "Oh, I hurt with you. How long have you been feeling this way? How are you coping? Why didn't you call me earlier? Have you been able to sleep? Are you eating? John and I went through some of the same issues. Do you want me to fly out and be with you?" The brother she calls will start thinking of how to solve the problem. "What is the issue in your opinion? Why the breakdown in communication? Is he having an affair? Have you called a lawyer?"

In Marriage, Family, and Business

This is why in marriage we continually hear wives saying, "My husband is always trying to fix me instead of just listening and understanding and validating my feelings."

Are all men this way? No, many men listen and sympathize. However, this complaint from wives is so constant it would not be wise for men to declare, "Quit the stereotyping of men." Instead of getting defensive, why not look at this from the vantage point that men truly want to help their wives but start with the problem first. Most are solution-oriented first.

At the same time, what does a mom do toward her sixteen-year-old boy who has a huge problem at school with not making the starting team and an even more painful problem because his girlfriend has ended the relationship? As he sits there in pain what does his mother say? "Oh, honey, we are so sorry. Can we talk about how you are feeling about all this? Please know your father and I love you. We are here for you."

He's quiet, and maybe says thanks. But the fact is that means little because it doesn't solve his problem. He still won't be the starting quarterback and won't get his girl back. Mom's love and affirmation is unrelated to his unsolved problems.

What would happen in business if women focused on the person with a problem and the men focused on the problem this person has? This could really help people! We might say, "All the bases are covered!"

So, back to the two lists I cited in part 1 of this blog.

Why Men and Women Tend and Mend Differently

She tends and mends the person first because of her gentleness, supportiveness, empathy, compassion, tenderness, connectivity, nurturance, sensitivity, responsiveness, and sentimentality. She does this to show love to the other person.

He tends and mends the problem the person has because of his protectiveness, self-confidence, rationality, logic, analytical, and emotional control. He does this to show honor to the other person.

Men are not unloving toward the other person when they are seeking to do the respectful thing by first helping solve the person's problem. And, women are not disrespectful of the problem when they are seeking to do the loving thing by first empathizing with the person.

The key is for us to cease passing judgment on the other as less than. A woman is not superior because she focuses on tending and mending the person with the problem. And, the man is not superior for tending and mending the problem that the person has. Both are right and seek to come to the same remedy though beginning in different places. She wants the problem solved but will get there first by empathizing. He wants the problem solved in order to help the person's heart.

Work Together

Suppose the problem is a conflict between two people. If the woman can get the two people to understand the hurt they inflicted and seek forgiveness, they can reconcile their hearts and then move forward on a solution. She feels if their pain is not fully understood and validated based on their honest differences of opinion, they won't be able to solve the matter well.

On the other hand, if the man can get these two people to solve the conflict by creating win-win, making them both happy campers, he can help them forgive and forget by getting both to feel really good about the positive benefits to both. One thing is for sure, these two approaches work best with their own gender. Her way works well with most women and his way works well with most men.

Help the Person with the Problem Instead of Reacting to Each Other

If these lists are generally true of ourselves and the people we love and respect, then valuing these characteristics and cooperating with them better helps the person with a problem.

If a loving woman looks at the man's approach and shows him little respect and appreciation for the way he seeks to tend and mend, they will get on the Crazy Cycle. In feeling disrespected for who he is, he ends up reacting to her in ways that feel unloving, and they spin on the Crazy Cycle.

If a respectful man looks at the woman's approach and shows her little love and appreciation for the way she seeks to tend and mend, they will get on the Crazy Cycle. In feeling "unloved" for who she is, she ends up reacting to him in ways that feel disrespectful, and they spin on the Crazy Cycle.

For this reason, let's see our common humanity. We both tend and mend; we just start at different places!

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. Emerson wrote, “A woman tends and mends people with problems. A man tends and mends problems that people have. . . . Both tend and mend.” Do you agree or disagree? Explain. Have you seen exceptions in yourself or others close to you?

  2. Thinking of Emerson’s example regarding the sixteen-year-old boy who lost the starting quarterback position, as well as his girlfriend, how would the mom’s words affect a teenage daughter dealing with similar issues? What would her dad most likely say to help the situation? How are both important to the “tend and mend” process?

  3. As was asked already above, what would happen in business if women focused on the person with a problem and the men focused on the problem this person has? What would happen in family and friend conflicts?

  4. If you are married or are in a relationship, have you seen where the differences between you and your significant other in the way you “tend and mend” have led to the two of you getting on the Crazy Cycle? Have you by chance actually embraced your different approaches and seen how they complement each other?