Things to know about the gender difference in communication
What follows is an edited transcription of a MasterMind call John Fogg hosted with Carol McCall. John has been a student of Carol’s for more than a dozen years (along with Richard Brooke, Teresa Romain and others), he’s co-presented The Empowerment of Listening Course with Carol and interviewed her for six hours of the Empowerment of Listening audio album, which was the basis of Carol’s book, Listen! there’s a world waiting to be heard. The MasterMind Calls are interactive, so you’ll also be reading questions, comments and conversations with listeners, John and Carol.
Carol, you say there are unique strengths and qualities women have that make them a natural for this business. Along with that, there have to be unique challenges, too. That’s where I’d like to start.
Great, thank you John. It was women in the Oxyfresh organization who really spoke to me first. We had a program called Leadership, Productivity and Service. There were an almost equal number of men and women at that point; more women than men, and yet there was a very solid body of men attending that training program. The women had been saying, for a couple of years, we need a leadership program where we as women can address our own specific items, our own specific concerns in terms of being leaders in network marketing, in terms of being leaders in the world, and acknowledging all of the different roles we play.
Women in network marketing very often confuse their roles with who in essence they are.
Out of their requests and concerns and their constant questioning of, “Look, can we do something that specifically addresses us?” came The Possibility of Woman course which has been out since 1990. An extraordinarily powerful course, it has just opened up the world to us. To date, we’ve had women in Israel, Australia, London, and Southeast Asia, as well as the United States participating and coming into the course through network marketing.
The whole point that is made, in terms of women in network marketing, is that women bring to NWM a fundamental core of nurturing and nourishing.
Now, I want to be clear that there are a lot of women who have what I call ‘male energy’, which is very objective, very left brain, logical, sequential, productive, performance driven. I am very clear about those women, I happen to be one of them… and there is an integration that women bring that is different from men.
In terms of women in NWM they bring an integration that is almost unconscious to them. What I mean by that is that they are able to bring the nurturing and the nourishing, the empowerment, and the mentoring. I’m giving up the word ‘mothering’ because there are so many women who have chosen not to be mothers in terms of biology; yet they choose to be mentors, which is a female characteristic.
Women get confused with the roles they play and who they are. In terms of communication, my work is about women getting the answer to the question “Who are you at the very core of yourself?”
Let’s get to values, let’s get to what really inspires you, what really has you motivated, what makes you jump out of bed in the morning and say, “This is what my day looks like. This is who I am and what I’m giving to the world.”
Those are the very fundamental things about who women are.
One of the exercises that I have women do in my women’s course, is to describe the five powerful adjectives that they are, they’ll say, “I am an intelligent, sensitive, playful, sexy, creative woman!” Okay, so based on those adjectives, how do you live from that core? Taking those adjectives, those values, how do you live from that on a daily basis rather than attempting to live from a role?
You bring those values and those qualities to those roles.
Just because your roles change doesn’t mean your values change, they don’t!
And this is where a lot of women get confused. Once they get that clear, that they have a constancy about the values that they bring, then they become clear about who they are in terms of a contribution.
I have yet to meet any human being, whether male or female, who doesn’t want to truly be a contribution. What do little children say at a very early age? “Can I help?” That’s contribution. “Can I play?” They want to contribute. In terms of human nature, that doesn’t go away, and it certainly doesn’t go away in terms of how women are socialized.
Part of my background is Marriage and Family Counseling and Family Systems. What I see is that sometimes part of the socialization that women received was very blocked in… You had to be a perfect wife, you had to be a perfect daughter, and you had to be a perfect mother… yadda, yadda, yadda! No wonder there was confusion.
Very few women were raised or socialized to understand that who you are in your core is what you bring to the roles. You are not your roles.
These are the things you play, these are the things you perform. However you bring something far beyond the roles. There’s a substance, there’s a richness, an ability to truly check in and find out who people are at their core.
I’m not saying that’s different for men, I’m saying that men do it differently.
There are times when women don’t understand that men do this, too, it just looks different. One of the major places that I have had to look is how men are in sports. How men are when it comes to performance, doing things, those same kinds of qualities show up in how they do things. Women come more from, not so much the doing as from the integration of how they BE and how they DO.
A women’s first perspective comes from how do I relate to this environment? A man’s first perspective comes from how do I figure out this environment?
Not wrong, not bad, not any kind of disempowerment… it’s just different. If a man is coming from ‘How do I figure it out in order to serve?’ a woman comes from ‘How do I relate in order to serve?’ What women bring is relationship to the majority of the things they participate in. That’s not a negative. That’s how they function.
Network marketing really is about relationship. For men and women to be successful in network marketing— and specifically women— is to own and to recognize both aspects of how they integrate themselves, both relationships plus the logic, the left-brain, the systems, the structures, all of that needs to be integrated. That’s not who they are, that is how they get to integrate their lives. That’s the major distinction.
One challenge I believe women have is, “How do I move it from the relationshipping and friendshipping into the ‘let’s talk about working together’. Do you have anything to say about that that might help them deal with that?
Yes! I have a lot to say and that would take about four days, so I’m going to condense it.
Yes, it is a challenge for women to have the distinction between relationship and now, of course, business. I talk about the relationship wheel. I love to describe the relationship wheel.
In relationship we have several concentric circles. We have an Inner Circle, a first circle that includes YOU, the person, and there are very few people in there. These are the people you can just express your body and soul to with no fear of condemnation, criticism and judgment, (CCJ), and these people unconditionally know who you are and accept who you are— these are the people in your inner circle, your core circle.
Then there is the next circle outside of that called Friends. Friends are people with whom we share very similar interests and very similar values. We tend to see life and its workings similarly. While we may not always agree with one another we certainly have camaraderie, a companionship and we have an empathy in terms of our perspective, so we share similar perspectives.
Then we have the next circle, which is called Associates. Those are people with whom we share activities. We share a number of similar kinds of interests that, while they might not be the same, these associates bring variety and diversity and new information and exposure to “the world at large”. We learn about the “world at large” through our associates. These are definitely people who bring us new perspectives.
And then there’s the final circle called COI, Center of Influence.
These are the networkers that we bring into our life to expand on what we are interested in— primarily our life purpose and how we are going to express ourselves out into the world.
There are several hierarchies in this circle of influence. These people will give you the number and name of someone who will promote your particular project, who can promote your particular downline, who can introduce you to another company, who can support you to expand and/or they will actually physically take you to meet these people and mentor you and support you to do this. These are centers of influence and it’s important to know who they are but rarely are they part of our Inner Core.
I’d like to stop a moment and ask the listeners of our call a question. What’s one thing that you’ve heard from Carol so far, that you appreciate the most?
Charlie in Dallas: Boy, this Carol is a powerful woman! I’ve always thought that my wife was a better networker than I am by far.
What is it that makes that important for you Charlie? It tells me that I need to ask different questions. I’m not asking the proper questions that she would ask when she goes out. The fact is, in the past two months she’s sponsored nine people and I’ve sponsored four and I contact twice as many people as she does. I think I’m going to go out with her a few times to meet with some of her people because she is just an awesome networker.
Charlie, have you observed your wife in action and yourself in action to have any sense of the difference in your wife’s ability to connect with more people than you? You know I think of myself as a great listener, that I listen to people very, very well. You have kind of been beating me over the head with that for the past couple of years John, so I try to listen. My wife is an excellent listener also but I think I’m going to have her tape some of her conversations because I think she’s asking different questions. She’s on a whole other level with her prospects than I am.
I have a suspicion, Charlie, that you and your wife are both listening FOR something when you are listening. I have another suspicion that your wife is listening for something different than you. I’m going to take a wild guess. I think you’re listening for the opening to sign somebody up. I think your wife is listening for who is this person, what’s interesting about him/her, what turns me on about him/her? Now, I don’t mean to put you on the spot or embarrass you, Charlie, but am I going in the right direction with either of those? Absolutely! Yes, absolutely, John, because that’s exactly what’s in the back of my mind. I think I’m a pretty good relationship person but when I sit down to talk to somebody that is a brand new prospect— and I love to ‘press the flesh’, I don’t like doing it over the phone— but she can come back and people are just crazy about going into business with her. They’re crazy about it. I guess it’s because she’s doing those relationship things that Carol is going to tell us about.
Carol, is that a basic difference with men and women?
It is a basic difference in certain arenas. In terms of communication and relationship, men move for closure. They move for productivity and performance to get something done. That is exactly the way men are socialized. There is nothing wrong with it. Women are listening for, what they have in common, for what it is they can relate to, and those are the things she’s listening ‘for’. A man is listening for the opening. Two different listenings and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
An image just flashed into my mind and you are going to laugh It’s the difference between how men and women shop. Men go in and if they don’t have a list, at least in mind, they simply won’t go. Women just go in. I don’t doubt that as Network Marketers, men go out with a list in mind, a list that describes what they are looking for in a Business Partner.
Charlie interrupts: I’ll say this about my wife Linda; she doesn’t like to go shopping. When she goes she has a certain thing in mind, she wants a pair of blue jeans that are a certain color or she wants a blouse that’s a certain color and she goes and gets it and comes home. She doesn’t just stay out there and shop all the time.
CM: Linda certainly is a part of a lot of women, there is a percentage of women who shop like that and generally speaking women don’t shop like that. I will say this, Linda also looks for the jeans and the blouse to relate to what she’s already got in her closet, which is very different from how men look for the shirt and the tie. For men, it’s not about relating to anything. What do they have to have to go with something else. They buy it because it’s something to wear. Women look for the, ‘What does this go with?’ relationship. That is a major difference. I shop that same way too, Charlie. I’m very left-brained about it and it’s always about how does it relate to what I already have?
Charlie: How does it work that this person is such a wonderful networker?
CM: Because there is this background listening already there of, ‘how does this relate?’ ‘how can I relate?’ and it’s such a backdrop that women come from relationship. Part of the work that I was trained in was that women grounded themselves in relationship, a woman relates to her environment. I’m not saying that men don’t, so please hear that, it’s just different.
As a women looks to relate it’s about integrating it into a present existence whereas a man looks to have it be productive within that environment. She’s not looking necessarily for the productivity, she’s looking for the integration and it’s relationship to the environment. Different, not better, different.
JMF: Do men tend to approach relating as pass/fail and women don’t have a grading system?
CM: No. Women have a different one. Pass/fail is very high for women in terms of relationship, very high. Much higher than men. Men’s rating is in terms of their performance, their ability to perform and produce is where they rate themselves very high which is why it’s very important to produce something, to have a product, to have a result – that’s performance and productivity.
A woman’s rating is how well did she relate. So Linda, Charlie’s wife, that she has nine people, she related well, that’s an ‘A’, she’s really excellent. Now if she had talked to twenty-five people and only related to one, she failed and ‘Oh my god, what’s wrong with me? What didn’t I do?’ We just have a whole different socialization so in Network Marketing we do really look at ourselves as powerful women and leaders based on how well we relate.
Again, I want to emphasize that there are women who have both left-brain and right-brain. There are women who relate and immediately hook into the structure, the logistics of it, the objectivity of it, how does it work?, how does it function? They bring both of those together. I’m not saying that men don’t I’m just saying that men go there first.
Women go to relationship first and then click into the logistics so it’s more of an integration rather what’s the first approach. It’s just different.
Charlie: John and Carol, isn’t it true that in Network Marketing it’s all a numbers game until you sit down with a prospect and then it becomes a relationship game?
CM: I love that you said that Charlie. For me it’s never a numbers game because if you really allow that to dominate or be part of a prevalent way of thinking, you are not going to relate to people. It is always a people’s game. Now, how many people can you get to? That’s a great question. How many people can I get to, but not how many numbers. It may sound like I’m saying the same thing and I am not. How many people can I get to in order to relate? I have just started a reconnection to an enormous database that I have and I am individually calling every alumni who has ever taken our courses in our database. This is about relationship and I can’t tell you how excited and charged I am to be relating to every person who has ever taken our courses. I’m thrilled because it’s about relationship for me and it’s very clear that it is about relationship.
On the other hand, my son, who is the operations officer, he is interested in ‘what have I produced? How many people have I reached? What are the numbers?’ And I get it. He is interested in my relationships, he’s coming from a different perspective and it’s a delight to know in our working together as a team that it’s fine with him that I’m doing the relationship and it’s fine with me that he’s keeping track of how many people I’m reaching. So it’s just a different approach.
JMF: Carol, I’m getting something around men approaching relationships with a criteria like, ‘Is this person useful?’ or ‘What’s the result?’ whereas women are doing something different. Not that they are ignorant of or don’t care about ‘useful results’ but it’s something more flexible in there about women. Almost as if there are more avenues to connect with where men are more singular or narrow about that and women seem more horizontal or wide. Is that making any sense?
CM: Yes, it is making a lot of sense and it keeps going back to how women and men are socialized in terms of men looking at things as functional, asking, ‘Is it functional?’ where women tend to ask ‘How many functions does it have, how many ways can I use it?’
Charlie: I’ve been told many, many, many times in 25 years of Network Marketing that you always start out with the end in mind. You start your day out with the end in mind.
CM: Not for women. Nope. We start out our day with what’s on our mind right now and, not with the end in mind, but what are we going to do with the day? How are we going to relate to the day?
By the end of the day, we get to the end of the day and it certainly does not look like how it seemed it would go based on how it started out. The male gender, and there are always exceptions, this is not a blanket statement, relate to what’s the end of the day like? Very different. That doesn’t mean there aren’t women out there who do the same thing and generally speaking as a gender difference, that’s the distinction. I don’t start out my day with the end of the day. I start my day with how am I relating to the day? What kind of day is it? Is it sunny? Is it going to be warm? How do I need to be and what do I need wear to fit into this day? What kind of activities are going to fit within my schedule? Who am I taking care of, who am I talking to, who am I calling, who am I relating to? All I know, at the end of the day, come 9:00 all systems shut down and I’m going to be in front of the ‘idiot box’. I’ve zoned out, and I don’t want anyone to ask me anything. I don’t start out with the end of my day. And that’s a difference I’ve experienced between the male gender and the female gender and I’ll keep emphasizing it is just different. It’s not better than, it’s not one is good or the other is bad. For women it’s about integrating both and NOT choosing one over the other.
When you can integrate both left and right-brain, when you can integrate the linear along with the creativity, it’s absolutely awesome and therein lies the power.
Both men and women have that opportunity and women tend to be more socialized to do that. Women are encouraged more to use their intuition. Men call it ‘gut instinct’, they call it their ‘hunch’ and women just call it intuition.
Recently car companies, Cadillac and Infinity and Saturn are starting to use the word ‘intuition’. That’s “feminine” language, that’s feminine communication, which is fine.
Another questioner for Carol: In regard to just listening in general, not differentiating between the sexes, what is the transcending power that people feel when they are truly listened to, that moves them to say, “Wow, this person is extraordinary!”? What is it that makes people feel empowered when you have given them the gift of attention?
CM: When people are not interrupted, when people have your undivided energy, like you’re not looking at them and your thoughts have wandered off, because people do pick that up, when you fully focus on them two things happen–
The first thing that happens is that they are startled – as very rarely, in fact since about 8 months of age, do people receive that undivided, focused attention. I am stating, on record here, that by the time we are 8 months old as babies, we are accustomed to not having undivided listening and sometimes even sooner than that. That’s a statement about our ability to be heard, to be listened to fully.
When one is listened to fully, there becomes a communion. The two of us experience an energetic exchange that nourishes and creates endorphins for both of us. So when a person is heard, or listened to with no interruption they begin to chemically create internal endorphins and that is why people go “Wow, what an extraordinary communicator you are!” and all you did was listen with no interruption.
It’s based on the physics principle that says, ‘no two things can occupy the same space at the same time’ so when you become my primary space, you get it…you are chemically impacted in terms of endorphins and you and I communicate together and that’s what will have people walk away with “Wow, THAT was awesome!” Did I answer your question?
Questioner: You answered it and I’m just contemplating exactly how I can internalize that and share it with others
CM: All you have to do is be quiet and truly be fully present. Anytime some distracting thought comes in go back and listen only to the words that that person is saying. And with the words that that person is saying you will be in communion, communication, with them.
Questioner: Is it safe to say that when you’re speaking to a person that really isn’t enlightened to the power in listening that they will say something and you just stay silent because you’re internalizing, you’re really listening, they think you do not get where they are coming from… they look at you as if you’re crazy, you’re ignoring them, because they expect you to say something as soon as they’re finished?
Questioner: Is that what that means when you truly give a person the credit, the honor of really paying attention and just being there for them and with them?
CM: Yes, It generally comes as a surprise until they get to know you because this is not one’s daily experience. People take pride in multi-tasking which means I can listen to you, balance my checkbook, talk on the telephone, and I can draw up a diagram all while I’m listening to you. Well I say that certainly is a misnomer…no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. What is going on is that you hear them, you’re certainly not listening. The experience of listening is a total gestalt, you get everything in that moment, everything… the message, the energy, tonality, even the temperature, the tempo… you get everything when you are really listening. www.listeningprofitsu.com
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