Stats vs. Sweet Talk Take 2: Translating the Conversational Gap Between Men, Women, & Word Counts

An excerpt from earlier:

Woman:  I’m super excited about the Super Bowl.  It’s going to be so much fun.  We’re having a party, and a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a long time are coming.  And man, James, have you met James?  Anyway, James makes these amazing barbecue ribs.  Food, fun, football.  So excited!  **claps hands enthusiastically and smiles as if verbalizing her excitement wasn’t enough**

Man:  Who you rooting for?

Woman:  Okay, so don’t judge…I’m torn.  I don’t love Baltimore, but I usually like to root for the underdogs if my team isn’t playing.  I do love California, though, so…I just don’t know yet.  How about you?

Man:  San Fran.

Woman:  **Stunned Silence**  Oh.  Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

(This could be applied to multiple scenarios…and *you*, you know who you are…)

It took the man two words to essentially say the same thing as the woman (who will remain nameless) who used about ten times that.  (Question:  How do you know Elle Grant is referencing herself in the third person?  Answer:  She tells you the woman in question will remain nameless and then proceeds to give herself away.  Highly effective.)

This got me thinking.  Why is it that the majority of (straight) men I know are quite concise (or “Linguistically Efficient” as one friend calls it), while the majority of women I know aren’t?

Let’s start at the beginning.  Words.  A word, by definition, is a “principal carrier of meaning.”  We, as people, need these principal carriers of meaning to express our thoughts.

Okay, please humor me here.  Stop for a minute.  Don’t say anything.  Don’t read anything.  Just sit there and think.

**waits patiently for the roughly two seconds you’ll probably think for before moving on**

What did you think about?  Your grocery list?  How you need to call your mother?  What time does the game start?  Crap, you forgot to get the dry cleaning *again*?  What *is* her point, anyway?  All those things were expressed in words.  We need them.

So, logically speaking, because thoughts are expressed in words, and women seem to use more words, would it be fair to say that women think more than men?  At least with their brains?

The stereotype is, of course, that men tend to think with an appendage on the lower half of their bodies, and that appendage, while fabulous in its own right, doesn’t usually say much.  Sure, it may make gestures or have sporadic outbursts, but overall, it’s not super talkative.

Or, could it be that men just have better filters than women?  Maybe women say pretty much everything that comes to mind, while men refrain from speaking unless it’s absolutely necessary.  You never know, they might need that last breath of air in a minute, and they don’t want to waste it on stating the obvious.

I know a man, quite wonderful really, who, when explaining his brevity, says “you can’t stick your foot in your mouth if it’s not open.”  Fine logic there…but if you don’t speak up, chances are someone else will.  (Plus, if you leave it up to women, we’re quite creative, really.  To us, your silence could mean any number of things…)

    (Speak up, Charlie Brown…)

Well, I did a little research.  Turns out, men talk just as much as women.  Surprising, right?

Here’s how:  Men tend to focus on specific information (Dude, that’s the fifth three-pointer he’s had in the last two minutes!), and women tend to be more supportive with their speech (Oh honey, I know just how you feel – that Ryan Reynolds really does a number on me…).  Plus, men traditionally talk more at work (you know, that whole dominance, Alpha Male thing), while women talk more in social situations (you know, that whole touchy feely “let’s be friends” thing).

I really just wanted an excuse to put Ryan Reynolds up here…

So, there you have it.  Men might take the cake when it comes to balding or slam dunking a basketball, and women might win out when it comes to wearing a bikini or graduating on time.  However, when it comes to speech (she finally concludes 700 words later…), well, we’re just about even.


**Photos courtesy of,,,,, and


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