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How Do Men and Women Approach Problems?

How Do Men and Women Approach Problems?

When I am working with couples, the men may talk a lot about wanting to be appreciated and having a partner who can help them; they seem to want loyalty and they want to engage in activities like hiking or biking, or they want women to be at their side on their journey through life toward success. Men sometimes want to solve a problem or fix something, while women may want to feel acknowledged and validated. Many women talk about connection and being cherished: they want to know they can count on their partner to be there for them.

While men and women can value and engage in mutual activities, they sometimes have preferential differences. Many women feel closer and validated through communication, dialogue and intimate sharing of experience, emotional content and personal perspectives. Some men find such sharing and involvement uncomfortable, or even overwhelming. (Of course, there are many couples for whom the exact opposite is true.)

Some research suggests that women have four times as many neurons that connect the right and left hemisphere of their brains. If accurate, this physical evidence supports the idea that men rely more heavily on their left brain to solve problems than women do. Women, on the other hand, may have more efficient access to both sides of their brain and could have greater access to their right brain, which is associated with creative problem solving. Women may have a more enhanced ability to multitask than their male counterparts, which would allow them to solve more than one problem at a time. As women have gained more equality in the work force, we are seeing a new generation of women CEOs who are using their ability to function in multiple areas at the same time, to show that interconnectedness in the workforce is a successful combination.

Women are sometimes intuitive and may think globally. They might consider a myriad of sources of information, which can be described as simultaneous. They may take a broad perspective, and view elements in an assignment as interrelated and interdependent. Some women may have some difficulty with complexities that may exist in some future context and may have some trouble separating their personal experience from experiential problems. These are generalizations, to be sure, but the differences between this way of thinking and the traditional approaches are getting some traction in the workforce.

Men sometimes tend to hyperfocus on one problem at a time, or on a limited number of problems at a time. Some men might have an enhanced ability to separate themselves from problems and can intellectually minimize the complexity that may exist to make them more manageable. Many men are generally more left-brained (logical thinkers) and therefore more linear, sequential and will view tasks as independent from one another. Men may tend to minimize and have difficulty with subtleties. Some males may work through a problem repeatedly, talking about the same thing over and over, rather than trying to address the problem all at once.

Of course, male artists, writers, poets and priests are perfectly capable of emotion, imagination and philosophical awareness. Women, as well, are entering more and more into the realms previously held sacrosanct by men, like competitive sports, mathematics and management.

With all these general dissimilarities, how in the world do relationships work at all? The answer is to understand how these rough variations are related, instead of seeing them as dealbreakers or divisions. We can view these differences as desirable, because differences can mean complementary skills, and the balance between differences makes for healthy and productive partnerships.

We can view conflict as inevitable because of people’s essential differences—regardless of their gender—instead of an indication of a fundamental flaw in our relationship. As men and women embrace their distinctions, it allows each person to learn the language of their partner, so that communication can thrive and strike a healthy balance between their different worlds. When men and women unite instead of compete, they become a working partnership. Vive la différence.



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Dr. Bill Cloke

Dr. Bill Cloke has worked with individuals and couples for 30 years. He received a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California and holds a PhD in psychology from California Graduate Institute. A frequent talk-radio and TV psychologist, he is also a contributor to and other popular websites and has lectured at UCLA. Bill Cloke lives with his wife in Los Angeles. To learn more about Bill Cloke, and for more resources on creating healthy, happy relationships, visit


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12:15PM PST on Jan 14, 2013

Thank you.

3:44AM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

"It is western women who are going to save the world because they are naturally in touch with the sacredness of life"

3:02PM PDT on Sep 1, 2012


2:29AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

thanks for sharing

2:01AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

thank you

12:23AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

It's all about compromise and complimenting each others strong points. When we work together we get things done quicker and better.

8:00PM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

LOL, James, that brings to mind what Joseph Cotten once said about acting: "I didn't care about the movies really. I was tall. I could talk. It was easy to do."

7:54PM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Hey! I can multi-task. I just can't walk and
chew gum at the same time. :)

12:21PM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

thanks Bill

i think on the topic of getting on with anyone, i find this insight from Yogananda helps:

"The light of practical sympathy
Only one who has begun to feel his oneness with every human being can know what divine love is. We must love others not for their human personalities, but because they are manifestations of God, Who dwells equally in all.

The lesson of reincarnation is to neutralize the waves of likes and dislikes, of desire and aversion. We do this by the expression of kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to all, and by steadfast contentment in the Self. The light of practical sympathy dispels the darkness of separation and enables you to see all hearts tied with one golden cord of divine love. One who extends his love to friends and enemies alike finds the duality of love and hate vanish, and he beholds only the presence of one love everywhere.

Learn to see God in all persons, of whatever race or religion. When your mind is free from prejudice, when you unreservedly sympathize with everybody, when in mutual service you forget the little self—only then will you see the one measureless Self of the Spirit running through all."

10:50AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

I like this line: "When men and women unite instead of compete, they become a working partnership."

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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