There are many stereotypes that exist when it comes to the differences between men and women. This is especially true when it comes to communication styles between the two sexes. We expect men to be somewhat without emotion when communicating. For women, however, the opposite is true. Our expectation is that women should be the happy, cheerful sex, which is reflected in the smiley-face syndrome. Many miscommunications can occur because female and male facial styles vary so profoundly.
Although men might take on an air of neutrality, there is actually no such thing as neutrality in communication. Women perceive negatively. Men’s masking of facial expressions causes uneasiness in women. This is why women often view and interpret men’s monotonic facial expressions as punishing and admonishing or as negative feedback.
The monotonic face is one of the reasons women feel uncomfortable with men. Males can appear unavailable and emotionally inactive because it has political value to them; this is the ultimate nonverbal way for them to express their masculine control.
When a woman can’t take a read on the man with whom she is talking, it makes her anxious. She becomes confused and begins to doubt herself. She might even become more animated to spark a reaction, but the man will hold fast to his stony demeanor. Indeed, when a woman increases her expressiveness in this situation, the man may believe that she’s becoming overly emotional. This undercuts her credibility. This is one of the occasions that prompts women to complain, “I get in trouble when I’m excited.” As a consequence of male facial stonewalling, the woman may cut short the conversation, explode in a rage, or avoid personal contact altogether.
Some men love the stone face because they know that it makes the other person feel uncomfortable and throws them off balance. It puts them in control. What should a woman do when she encounters this stratagem? It is recommended that she recognize this ploy and then hang tough, refusing to be influenced by it. Or she can use the verbal package to expose the nonverbal, by saying, “I’m not getting a read right now on how you feel about what I’m saying. What do you think?” It’s a powerful approach to let a man know that he is not intimidating her.
Joseph Plazo is a killer success coach with a passion for sneaky NLP techniques and negotiation skills. He helps people find great jobs in the Philippines