The art of conversation – Phillippa Law

Women tend to lean forward, nod and make eye contact when they’re listening attentively. Men are more likely to lean back and shut their eyes. Since it looks suspiciously like men have chosen this particular moment to have a snooze, it’s unsurprising that women think they’re being ignored. Men understandably get annoyed when women try to prod them ‘awake’, since they had shut their eyes in order to be able to listen better.

Women say “M-hm,” and “Yeah, yeah…” more often than men.
Hello? Did you hear a word I said?

Minimal responses mean simply “I’m listening”, whereas men understand them as “I agree with you.” The result is that when men hear “M-hm,” they think the woman agrees with them, and it’s infuriating when it turns out she doesn’t. Naturally, when a woman doesn’t hear “M-hm,” she thinks the man isn’t listening.

Women tend to acknowledge the previous speaker’s comment in some way before making a contribution, while men tend to launch straight into their own point. In mixed conversation, this can make women feel like they’ve been completely ignored. Hello? Did you hear a word I said?