Why do the words ‘Five minutes’ mean different things to men and women? Male/female difference in hearing.

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Pastor Mark Gungor is a very funny man, which is good since to understand this blog, it really will help to watch the clip.  Women hear 2 – 10 times better than men, and this is from birth.  As we age, the difference gets more marked with men losing their hearing twice as fast as women, especially the higher pitched sounds.  So, as a slight aside, when in the company of an older man it is worth while doing an impression of Margaret Thatcher when talking to him since he will be able to hear what we say better.

In general, women’s hearing is more sensitive to quiet sounds, to changes in pitch and is particularly sensitive at the frequency of speech.  As a result we women can hear emotions in voices in a way that men can’t.  When we are upset, if our mother or best friend phones us up, we only have to pick up the phone and answer ‘Hello?’ and the next sentence from her is, ‘What’s the matter?’.   So to a woman’s ears, the word, ‘Nothing’  can mean ‘nothing’ or it can mean ‘absolutely everything‘ and it is incomprehensible to us that a man cannot get this.  We know when we say ‘nothing’ we can mean ‘nothing’,  ‘I need a cuddle’, or ‘I am furious’, depending upon the tone of our voice.   I think what we women have to understand is that men will not hear this difference and will only hear ‘nothing’ as meaning ‘nothing’s wrong’.  So when he then walks off as if nothing matters we must try not to take this as a sign that he doesn’t love us or, if he is our boss or works for us, he has no respect for us.  If we have a problem, we actually have to spell it out for the male.  That, of course, is an art in itself.  Personally I find this hard to remember, however, to make a man listen to us more, we must stand still.  Their more simply wired brain can only concentrate on one thing at once, and so they will find movement distracting1  If we are trying to get a man to listen to us properly, we need to keep it short and simple, ensuring we have his full attention.  So if he asks, ‘What’s the matter’  we must answer honestly. ‘I need a cuddle’ – or whatever.  And it is no good saying ‘I’ll only be five minutes’ when we know that for us ‘five minutes’ is a vague time term meaning we aren’t ready to leave just yet, but we are getting on with getting ready to leave or whatever it is we are in the throes of preparing for.  Depending upon the man, to avoid confusing and frustrating him, it is better to give a truly vague answer:  ‘Are you ready to leave yet’, ‘No.’,  ‘When will you be ready?’ ‘I don’t know, but I’m working on it’.  This will still annoy him, but at least he understands it.

For the men, yes, women are sometimes quite incomprehensible.  Mark Gungor is right; from the mouth of a woman,  ‘Nothing’ rarely means ‘nothing’, ‘five minutes’ means ‘not straightaway- but sometime in the future’.  I suppose it is really a matter of learning by our mistakes – for both men and women.  The better we communicate with each other, whether at home or at work, the less stress we cause each other and everybody feels a little bit happier all the time.



  1. I will come back to this subject in future blogs.  But for now, men’s concentration on a single subject is far superior to the females.  This is partly why men and women together make a good team. []

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