It’s fairly easy to tell when someone is actually listening to you. Body language is usually a dead give-away. For instance, I can always tell when Dr. Advice is not listening to me because he has a glazed look on his face, and his body language and spoken words don’t agree. My habit on those times is to simply say in a continuing conversational manner “I need to go wash the cat!”. It usually snaps him to attention. Besides we haven’t owned a cat for nearly 40 years.
When speaking to a group of children or simply the one child who needs to clean his/her room, a barely inaudible grunt while he/she is absorbed in a TV program or video game, is a sure sign that your message did not get through. It is my understanding that Bill Gates as a child answered his mother’s call to dinner from his downstairs room by saying “I’m busy”. But then, chances are, you did not give birth to another computer genius, and as it turned out, he really was busy.
Speakers are aware of body language, referred to as “audience awareness”, or relating to a group. As you prattle on about your favorite subject, and see that the audience is sitting back in their seats with their chins down and arms crossed on their chest, you might get a hunch that your delivery is not going well, or that half the audience is asleep. If what you are speaking about is contained in a slide show of “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”, and you hear snores rumbling through the darkened room, you blew it.
Women are far more perceptive than men, which means being able to spot the contradictions between someone’s words and their body language. Female intuition is evident in women who have raised children. For instance, I long ago convinced my children and grandchildren that mothers really did have “eyes in the back of their heads”. How else to explain the sudden change of plans which accurately foiled any after-school activity they may have planned? It is a parental challenge at which mothers somehow can do intuitively.
It is a proven fact that women have far greater capacity for communicating and evaluating people than men do. Women have between fourteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evaluate others’ behavior versus a man’s four to six areas. This may explain how a woman can attend a dinner party and rapidly work out the state of relationships of other couples at the party—who’s had an argument, who likes who, and so on.
The female brain is organized for multitracking—the average woman can juggle between two and four unrelated topics at the same time. She can watch a TV program while talking on the telephone plus listen to a second conversation behind her, while drinking a cup of coffee. She can talk about several unrelated topics in the one conversation and use five vocal tones to change the subject or emphasize points. Unfortunately most men can only identify three. As a result, men often lose the plot when women are trying to communicate with them.
Then there is the “Fast Talker”, frequently a man, who has so much to say in a short time, and covers so many divergent subjects, that his spoken words pour out and flow like a spring thaw. These men are frequently lawyers or politicians. Are you listening Dr. Advice?