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Gender Communication Differences with Dr. Stephen Furlich

George Grombacher October 20, 2022

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Gender Communication Differences with Dr. Stephen Furlich

LifeBlood: We talked about gender communication differences, how the biological differences between men and women impact communication, and knowing can improve interpersonal communication, with Dr. Stephen Furlich, professor and author. 

Listen to learn why men and women tend to mis-communicate!

You can learn more about Stephen at TAMUC.Edu. Get your copy of Sex Talk HERE, and NonVerbal Epiphany HERE

Thanks, as always for listening! If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review here:


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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Dr. Stephen Furlich

Episode Transcript

Hey what’s up this George Gee, that time is right. welcome today’s guests strong and powerful Dr. Steven Phillips. Dr. Steven, are you ready to do this?

Unknown Speaker 0:23
Yes. Thanks for having me. George,

george grombacher 0:24
excited to have you on. Dr. Stephen is the author of the breakthrough book sex talk how biological sex influences gender communications differently, or differences throughout life’s stages. Dr. Stephen, tell us a little bit your personal life smart about your work and what motivated you to write the book.

Unknown Speaker 0:43
Okay, thanks. So from an early age, I’ve always been interested with human social behaviors, and in particular, beyond what people commonly know or commonly are aware of. So I used to read books, grown up as a teenager about nonverbal communication, gender communication, and then I went to college at the University. I majored in psychology. And I found some of that interesting, but alive, it was diagnosed in major disorders. And then I started to look for a minor, because I needed one, and I flipped through the catalog and came across Communication Studies. And then those courses caught my eye such as nonverbal communication, gender communication, persuasion, public speaking, and interpersonal communication. So then I made that my minor, and then I went to graduate school and did my graduate studies in communication studies. And I taught some of those courses. Then as a faculty member, after I received my PhD, I’ve taught for the last several years, five or six years, a gender communication course. And in the communication research, it’s acknowledged that there are gender communication differences between males and females. But it’s pretty much in the social sciences, Communication Studies, English and other areas, almost entirely 100%, attributed to social factors, social learning in the family, society, all those types of things. But I kept seeing the same types of gender communication differences over and over, regardless of different types of cultures, different time periods, years, decades, and there’s consistency. So then I started to look into other research for better explanations for this consistency, where all these other social factors change. So I started looking at neuroscience, biology, psychiatry, and found some biological explanations for gender communication differences between males and females, such as brain structural differences, and then also sex hormone differences as well.

george grombacher 2:59
Fascinating. And if you don’t mind me asking, how, how long ago did you go down this path? When When, when when were you in undergraduate,

Unknown Speaker 3:10
oh, undergraduates, um, I finished that and 98. And then I did graduate, and I finished my PhD around 2006. And then teaching at the university level ever since. And doing research. And one of the things that’s, like I alluded to was that I’ve taught a general communication course. And I started to incorporate these other areas of biology into it, but I couldn’t find a book for it. So just a mother of inventions is necessity. So then I thought, well, I might as well write my own book, because I just kept putting all this work in to incorporate into my lectures, all this other research, so it’d be easier just to have it all in one place. And that’s what I did. And I tried to make it for both for the classroom and then as easy as possible for other people outside of academia. Here’s the technicality behind it, but here’s the explanation of how you could use it and the reasons why.

george grombacher 4:14
How was that? Trying to try to do both things?

Unknown Speaker 4:20
It was It was exhausting to be honest. But and this is my personal opinion is I think that’s one of the things that academia, and particularly in the social sciences really need to improve upon is this is great to find facts. It’s interested in this and other but take that next step. How can people actually use it in their personal lives and professional lives beyond just memorizing definitions? So it took me about a year and a half, two hours at least two hours every day just to write the rough draft and has 700 different articles cited. So Oh, people could get as much information as they want and look up individual, you know, articles if they had more interest in it.

george grombacher 5:08
Yeah. One of my favorite sayings is I’d rather be useful than brilliant. So yes, yes. And they, for me, it’s just because I’m not necessarily brilliant. So I’d like to say that that’s neither here nor there, Steven. Alright, so you mentioned there’s differences in brain structure, and you said something else as well,

Unknown Speaker 5:27
sex hormones, excellent. Influences behaviors as well. So at conception, pretty much everyone starts off on the same track, what we typically think of as female. And then after about four months after conception, that’s when the sex hormones start to differentiate those with the X X chromosome from the X Y chromosome. And so sex hormone differences are starting to be produced between the two different chromosomes types, that’s create these differences. And a lot of its, well, this is sort of the way you could think of in sort of the opinion that you could kind of blame live it on that Y chromosome and producing those androgens testosterone, those male sex hormones, that really bring this distinction in the play. So the sex hormones themselves, such as producing more of the estrogen, or with the X X chromosome, or more the testosterone with the X Y chromosome, they actually create brain structural differences between males and females. Whereas science has advanced far enough, now, you can analyze the human brain, and with over 90%, accuracy predict if it’s male, or female, and some of these differences that are observed through science, based upon the structural differences. And again, this starts out usually about four months after conception, are in the areas of communication, emotion, perception, and all these areas that influence our social behaviors. So after people are done, after they read my book, they should be able to identify these five different areas in the human brain, and explain how that leads to communication differences.

george grombacher 7:15
Fascinating. And so men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, they’re not necessarily off track with that thinking,

Unknown Speaker 7:27
Ah, I have conflicting thoughts on that book.

george grombacher 7:33
And I’ve never had the book, it’s just this kind of the idea,

Unknown Speaker 7:36
ah, and that, that that’s a popular book, it’s sold, you know, millions and millions of copies. And I think it kind of got on the right track in terms of thinking that there are gender communication differences. But one, I think it kind of overplayed it with, probably. And it wasn’t research based from my understanding that I didn’t see anything that was cited that was research based, a lot of it was maybe more observation. Whereas with my book, I tried to have everything backed up by science by research, and I tried to have much more precision in it. So with that book, Mars and Venus, it kind of looks at people, males and females from two totally different worlds. Whereas I think when you think of it as within maybe the same type of species, for sure, and maybe even the same types of culture, and everything’s on Continuum, so it’s not that a male communicate one way and a female, a different way entirely, but a little bit better in some areas, and the other a little bit better, and other areas as well, and maybe some limitations in some areas, and some limitations and other areas. So for example, it’s been found for years and even decades that females are much superior when it comes to nonverbal communication, both send and understand a nonverbal communication of other people. And again, previously, in social research, it’s always been attributed to social factors grown up differently, this or another, but there are biological explanations for it. And one of the things that people aren’t nearly as aware of as what they should have that my book brings out, is that women have a much more integrated brain. They have much more connections across both hemispheres, whereas with males, they have more connections within each hemispheres. And what that allows her to do is to access more different areas of her brain at the same time, and scientists even found more of her overall brain is activated during conversations. So it allows her to engage in conversation, while at the same time analyze other people’s nonverbal behaviors, whereas with males were much more compartmentalized. And we access it actually shows on fMRI scan set males when they engage conversations. The left side is active vade from language in emotion is activating on the right side. So we could do one or the other, but not as well both at the same time. So she’s gonna be able to pick up more on the subtleties and more the details of other people’s behaviors during the conversation and read into it much deeper level, males are going to have a much more literal understanding. But some other explanations as well is she has more mirror neurons that are activated during conversations, and what the mirror neurons do as it prepares your body to display the same nonverbal behaviors that you see someone else do. So if your body is preparing to display those same nonverbal behaviors that you see someone else do, it activates similar areas of the brain, and it helps you empathize better with them as well. She also has much higher levels of oxytocin, which is that bonding chemical that a lot of times people hear about and popular culture or whatever thrown around as that love hormone. So she connects there with other people understands their emotional state much better from having that higher levels of oxytocin. Because what that does is, it not only makes helps you feel a bonding with the other person in connection, but it takes more sensory information for you to process. So she with all those things together just has more information to go off of during social interactions. And sort of my opinion, that maybe sometimes there’s a misunderstanding and non verbally between males and females, because maybe females sometimes overcomplicate things by reading it too deeply. And maybe sometimes males misunderstand it, because we oversimplify it and have a more literal understanding. I don’t know if fascinating, and put on that or observed that at all, or

george grombacher 11:49
I wrote down as you were talking, EQ, it’s that emotional intelligence, right. And you essentially went on to say that just the way our brains work, women are skew more towards having a higher level of EQ, which I think is, which doesn’t surprise me at all. My my anecdotal just the experience doing the podcast for as many as I have, I find that many of my guests who are female have a higher level, and they’re easier to talk to oftentimes, then then that are men, I would say that that’s probably on average, true.

Unknown Speaker 12:28
I have and this is my favorite chapter, chapter 12. And it’s called women’s sixth sense. And I go through all the five senses, and research has shown how females are superior on all five senses that could distinguish between more different types of smells, more different types of taste, her her tastes, preferences tend to fluctuate based upon her cycle, the menstrual cycle that goes on, she’s much more sensitive to touch. Here, she could hear a larger range of sounds, and that’s related to estrogen. So as her estrogen levels are higher, more incur reproductive age, she’s able to hear much better due to higher levels of estrogen. And then when she enters menopause, estrogen drops, and so sort of hearing ability, and then sight sight is on the X chromosome. And with having 2x chromosomes, females are much superior with being able to see many more different shades of hues of colors, and what males are, and only males are colorblind, which is about 10%. And there’s even a few females a smaller percentage that have an extra cone that’s on the retina that allows them to see color even better. So they can see color better. And one of the things that also throughout that chapter is that their insula, their insula is larger and more active. And what that does is it helps a process sensory information. So not only is her sense, or all of her senses are superior to what males are, but she can process that information much better through the insula in, she has much more information to go off of. And to align is there is some truth to it. I think of women’s intuition, having a better sense of what’s going on socially, and having more cues to go off of as well.

george grombacher 14:33
I think it’s fascinating. So I’m, I’m surprised. Well, it’s probably because you’ve done you’ve done the research and your book is, is now bringing this information forth that that women have more integrated shooting, what is the term?

Unknown Speaker 14:51
Ah, that’s connections across both hemisphere hemisphere. And we’re much that again, again, helps her to do more things at the same time during conversations socially, so the language and the nonverbals at the same time, whereas us language is activated on the left side, and then emotion on the right side. So expecting us to be able to communicate about our emotions, on the same level is what females do. I think it’s just unrealistic, we’re just not capable of doing that is structurally, but then take this into consideration. So if that’s not enough for us of a disadvantage, testosterone actually hinders language ability, social abilities, nonverbal ability, so higher levels of testosterone hinders our ability when it comes to language and social abilities for us. In males, adult males can have 20 times as much testosterone and white females do. And estrogen actually helps language and social abilities. And females, adult females tend to have about 20 times as much estrogen as what males do. So it’s not only structural, but it’s a second term on differences as well. And what what it does is is no sex hormones. So we talked about early on at conception, a few months afterwards, how that creates structural differences, but the sex hormones is what makes it function. So it makes functional differences between males and females. Social and Behavioral as well, how do those areas function and activate is based upon partially the sex hormones themselves, you can think of as the oral and the car engine, it helps the helps it run differently based upon what different types of oral that you put in.

george grombacher 16:34
Fascinating. So armed with this new information, how can I do a better job communicating with with with my wife?

Unknown Speaker 16:44
Okay, so I guess you need to understand that she’s gone look into it much more beyond what you say the words themselves a much deeper understanding of the subtleties, your nonverbal behaviors, and she needs to understand that not to expect you to communicate with as much emotion as what you do, what’s been found is in research is that males tend to use more report talk more of the just a topic oriented, and females tend to use more of the road poor talk more of the relationship and tiny emotion in their biological explanations for it, she has a larger, more active hippocampus, which is involved with memory. So I’m not sure if it ever came up in conversation where she brings in stuff from the past. And you think about how this is related. It’s all tied in together for her. The past memories with the current topic, and then emotion as well. And the hippocampus helps with that. Also, with during social interactions, more of the emotion area of her brain is activated. So it’s gonna be a much deeper emotional experience for her more intense. One of the chapters that I covered that probably you could relate to that everyone else saw play out in their lives, was what happened with the Johnny Depp Amber Heard trial, and the chapter that I have this she demands that he withdraws. And that is a popular relationship dynamic of conflict that’s been found for decades. But then again, there are some biological reasons for it that just recently, I bring out that it hasn’t really been thought of that much, that it takes much more cognitive effort for males to process relationship types of information. So we’re not even aware of that maybe things aren’t going as well as what we think. Whereas with females, they’re much more attuned to it, because it takes less cognitive effort, just like we already talked about, they have more information to go off of, and sensory information, they empathize with other people better, as well. So with that relationship dynamic, even played out in the courtroom itself, that Amberson every time we have a conflict, Johnny, you just leave. And that’s a typical relationship dynamic is the male just leaves him towards it because it’s more difficult to address those types of issues, language wise, so she’s invested much more so emotionally, it’s even been found when females look at a subliminal negative face. So a face that they’re not even aware of. They have more activation in their brain overall, and in the emotional areas as well. So she’s much more invested emotionally in the relationship. And he feels that he’s not being valued by why he does that. She feels that he’s not invested in it language wise, expressing his emotions and she’s not appreciating what he actually does. So, she needs to understand that what he does is his investment and he needs to understand that he needs to appreciate more of her emotional investment in it. So what could have been done differently with that is it If they found that prior to a conflict, that touch a positive types of touch, such as holding hands or maybe a hug prior to a conflict that increases the oxytocin levels between both people. And so it leads to better empathy, you understand that other people. And then secondly, what’s as important as well, is that mimic behaviors mimic behaviors non verbally indicate how positive a relationship is. So if two people display some similar types of nonverbal behaviors, that not only activates similar areas of the brain so that you better empathize with the other person, you understand them, but also increases the oxytocin levels of both people by having similar nonverbal behaviors displayed between each other so that you not only understand them there, but it’s that bond and chemical. So if you observe next time you go to the social interaction to social party, you observe couples around if they’re not displaying similar types of nonverbal behaviors, maybe things aren’t nearly as well as what people think they are.

george grombacher 21:07
Fascinating. Fascinating stuff. Dr. Steven, thank you so much for coming on. Where can where can people learn more about you? And where can they pick up a copy of sex talk how biological sex influences gender communications differently throughout life stages.

Unknown Speaker 21:24
So the easiest way is just search my last name for Ilitch Fu, R li ch, on either Amazon, Barnes and Noble or audible. And picking up my book really helped out a lot to explain the reasons why. And one of the biggest things is to not try to understand social interactions from your perspective, but try to understand how other people see their perspective. Again, you know, like we talked about females, much more likely subtleties than males, much more literal understanding. And then later on this week, I have another book coming out called nonverbal epiphany steps to improve your nonverbal communication. And it helps people understand those subtle nonverbal behaviors that people aren’t aware of. In particular, now, how most things were unaware of as males when it comes to nonverbal communication, and it has activities where people actually do

george grombacher 22:19
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, so Dr. Steven, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, pick up a copy of sex talk wherever you buy your books. And you can simply search by Dr. Stephens. Last Name, which is spelled fu R L, i c h, and I’ll link that in the notes of the show as well. So you can just click there and find it. Thanks again. Dr. Stephen. Okay. Thanks, George. Hi, I’m Jordan. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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