March 13, 2006
Why DO Women Talk So Much?
By DEANNA DAHLSAD
Men often ask these questions:
"She just had lunch with her today, why does she need to be on the
phone with her tonight?"
"Why does it take her so long for her to tell one lousy story?"
"Why does she need to send a birthday card to her sister if she's going
to see her at the party on Saturday?"
Men are clearly frustrated by women's need to communicate -- nearly as
much as women are frustrated by the silence of men! So why do
women talk so much?
A female brain can, and will, effortlessly, put out 6,000 to 8,000
spoken words a day. A man's maximum spoken verbage lies between 2,000 to
4,000 spoken words daily -- and if watching my dad and husband is any
indication, it's not without great effort. All of this has its roots
in our survival as a species.
Men evolved from hunters who didn't do much talking. (If you've ever
seen your grandpa and uncles hunt and fish, you know this to be true.
Hours and hours go by, and no one speaks.) While there is evidence to
support that communication was needed among early hunters, most of it
was done prior to setting out to hunt, leaving little for discussion
during the hunting trip itself. This was practical. Too much noise
(conversation) would alert the prey -- at best scaring it away; at worst
turning hunter into hunted.
On the other hand, women went out-and-about not to hunt, but to gather.
As they did this activity in groups, they would keep up a stream of
conversation in order to make sure no one had fallen behind or prey to
animals. For a woman, conversation was literally life itself!
The many life-saving conversations among our female ancestors consisted
of sharing the details of the day's work with other members of the
group. This is also practical, since gathering is all about the
details. You have to know each leaf pattern and shape, and not just
what color, but what shade it is; because eating the wrong plant or
picking the berry at the wrong time could mean death. What better time
to educate the younger or newer members of the group than to with show and
tell? These detailed training conversations are still alive among
gathering societies today -- be it 'primitive' cultures or women
'gathering' at the mall.
When you look at these detailed life saving conversations, it's easy to
see why we women use twice the number of words of our male
counterparts. But there's another aspect to this communication as well.
Think about these groups of women relying upon one another to be trained
in the subtle art of gathering. As they walk along, bent over, looking
for signs of edible goodies, they are also listening to the voices of
the group members. They are not merely listening for tips on spotting
safe foods or cries of 'deep red ripe berries over here!' but for the
tone of voices. Does she sound alarmed? Does she sound too far away?
Urc's been quieter than usual... is she sick? Again, they are paying
attention to the details in the voices themselves. And they also
listening for what is missing... Has Ug's voice been heard recently?
Is she missing?!
Conversations like these, discussions which are clearly meant to teach
and share as well as look out for each other, build trust. You are
entrusting your own life, the lives of your family members, to the other
group members. You have to trust that the information is good. You
have to trust that these people are listening to you.
For women, talking and sharing are bonding experiences which help them
build relationships. Women learn how to trust and who to trust by
communicating and paying attention to the smallest of details. Having
communication reciprocated, to know that others are listing, is a reward
too. So the cycle continues.
Women talk so much because communication never fails to make women feel
understood, comforted and supported. It's proof that we matter! And we
do delight in letting others know that they matter too.
Posted by photocartoonist at March 13, 2006 11:09 PM
I wish thy would just be quiet
Posted by: mark at June 22, 2006 3:39 PM
This is exactly right! Along with that, women were responsible for raising the children, and being sensitive to communication was/is key. Such as the need for details, tones, and the “closeness” or intimacy that is entwine in women’s conversations. I never really put two and two together with the “child rearing” and the “gathering” aspect, but it makes perfect sense!
To the author, Deanna Dahlsad:
I just stumbled upon this article, but if at all possible I would love to subscribe to this “blog” on related topics.
Posted by: T K at November 24, 2006 11:06 AM
I wish usage of words per day for a women would have been limited to a certain amount by default... so that after that they could only speak the next day...
Posted by: Anand at April 11, 2007 3:59 AM
actually i heard they did a study recently and the conclusion was men actually do talk just as much as women. i know some really chatty dudes who just WILL NOT shut up, even if you conk them on the head. I think it's a power trip for them to control the conversation.
Posted by: jesse at May 4, 2007 6:37 PM
Its okay to have a normal and short conversation with a woman, but when it gets to the point where you've said and heard enough, i just feel like sticking duct tape over her mouth.
"Do you think i'm fat"?.... - Woman
"Shut the hell up, woman"! - Man
Posted by: Wale at May 28, 2007 6:31 PM