When Dave came home from work, he was completely frustrated with his day. Even after he’d been home a few hours, he carried the pain of a difficult interaction with his boss. He looked over at his wife, who was typing frantically at the computer. He wanted so desperately to just feel her warm and safe arms around him as he shared his hurt, but something inside of him cautioned against it. She might think I’m a sissy. Real men suck it up and deal with it. Stop being weak and take it like a man, Dave! He sighed deeply and retreated to the den to unwind.
Angela glanced up as he walked past her. She sensed his tense demeanor and knew something was wrong. She looked back at the computer screen and took a deep breath. I really need to get this finished. Maybe Dave just needs some time alone. I suppose women are supposed to be sensitive and intuitive, but I don t feel that way right now. Whats wrong with me? Get your butt up, Angela, and go see if he needs anything. As she poked her head into the den, Dave had his nose in the newspaper. Angela cleared her throat slightly and asked, “Honey, is everything okay? Is there anything you want to talk about?”
Dave glanced up and politely answered, “No, I just had a long day. I’ll be out in a few minutes.” Angela smiled and headed back to her computer.
Dave and Angela, like millions of others, are victims of the gender stereotypes they have been fed throughout their lives. They feel pulled in directions that run counter to gender stereotypes, and they are both too afraid to admit it.
We will dispel many gender stereotypes, lies, myths, and urban legends that exist about gender differences. It will challenge many of the gender stereotypes you have come to believe. Yes, many gender stereotypes are valid (most of which are obvious), and we will look at some of those as well.
Alleged experts have told people for many years that men are thinkers and women are feelers. They claim that women like to talk things out and men like to withdraw, and they affirm that women get their sense of self through relationships while men get their sense of self through accomplishments. But when these experts meet people who say, “Wait a minute, my husband is the one who likes to talk, and I’m the one who like to get projects done,” the experts respond by saying, “Well, you’re experiencing a role reversal, and that’s normal.” They may even go on to try to convince people why this role reversal took place. Maybe the woman is becoming more assertive and less emotional because she has taken on a new role of working outside the home. Maybe the man is becoming more feminine and sensitive because he is forced to take on some roles that a woman would normally have. Hogwash!
The scrutiny of human nature on a small scale is one of the most dangerous of employments; the study of it on a large scale is one of the safest and truest.
– Isaac Taylor
The divorce rate in America is still at 40 to 50 percent (depending on which research firm you ask), and people are still struggling with relationships whether they are married, dating, or just friends. If people’s relational problems were simply gender-based, all women would get along with other women because they understand each other. All men would get along by simply grunting at each other, watching television, and bonding. But everyone has relationship and conflict problems with a wide variety of people, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes are keeping people from truly understanding each other.
The differences that exist between people are results of social style variances and not gender. Unfortunately, many wellintended but misguided experts have led us to believe that men have certain characteristics and women have the exact opposite. Again, some of those differences are actually true, and the ones that are true are often the ones that people don’t like and may even dismiss as false. On the other hand, the mythical fabrications that have been passed around for years are the ones people tend to embrace and perpetuate. Crazy, isn’t it?
As a result, men and women find themselves scrambling to figure each other out. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not working. One of the reasons it’s not working is that we have been fed inaccurate information that can lead to relationship frustration and even identity crises. Men are told they are built a certain way just because they are male. When they find themselves instinctively acting differently from the stereotypical male, they may become confused and afraid to tell anyone. Many women feel like outsiders in some women’s groups because they don’t fit the mold either. They would rather hang around with men than with women.
The lightbulb is about to come on. Here you’ll get answers to some confusing relationship questions. You’ll discover why so many people in your life do not fit the gender stereotypes.
The Truth Starts Here
Many of the differences we attribute to gender are actually attributable to social style, or temperament. There are four basic types of people in the world, and yes, you are one of them.
Social style analysis has been an area of interest and expertise for both of us over the past 20 years. The overview of each style that follows will help you understand why people are the way they are.
As you read through the descriptions of the four social styles, make a mental note of which one describes you best.
Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.. .The first to speak in court sounds right-until the cross-examination begins.
– Proverbs 18:13,17
Analyticals. People with this social style are introverted and task oriented. They like to think through their decisions and analyze everything. They are neat, clean, organized, loyal, and self-disciplined, and they like to do things right the first time.
But these folks can also be moody, critical, and indecisive. They hate conflict, and they tend to be antisocial because they are not very outgoing and they focus on getting tasks completed. Some famous Analytical people are Spock from Star Trek, Agatha Christy, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, and Marie Curie (physicist and chemist).
Drivers. Drivers are type-A, natural-born leaders. They too are task oriented, but unlike Analyticals, they are extroverts. They are determined, productive, and decisive. They are visionaries who get a lot of stuff done.
But Drivers can also be unsympathetic, insensitive, and proud. They are not the most warm and fuzzy people you’ll meet. They can be sarcastic and have little patience for perceived incompetence. Theodore Roosevelt, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump, and the cartoon character Lucy from Peanuts are classic Drivers.
Amiables. Amiables are introverted like Analyticals, but they are relationship oriented, not task oriented. They are easygoing and likeable, partly because they avoid conflict whenever they can. They are inoffensive, diplomatic, and calm. They are often sympathetic and giving.
But Amiables can also be indecisive, apathetic, and noncommunicative. They make great listeners but don’t always like to share what’s on their mind. They tend to be lax on discipline with their children or with workers whom they supervise. Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, Princess Diana, and the cartoon character Charlie Brown are famous Amiables.
Expressives. This is the easiest social style to identify because Expressives are extroverts and relationship oriented. You can see and hear them coming! They are usually the life of the party and like to have a good time. They are charismatic, enthusiastic, and ambitious. They love to talk with just about anyone.
But Expressives can be reactive, obnoxious, loud, and disorganized. They tend to exaggerate and enjoy being the center of attention. They chafe under structure and rules and can get themselves into trouble because of that. Jim Carey, Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Clinton, and Lucille Ball are clearly Expressives.
Why You Need to Know This
These social styles determine behavior much more than gender does. As we consider some gender stereotypes and urban legends, we will replace those gender stereotypes with the truth about social styles. Along the way, I’ll give you even more information about each social style. As a result, you will understand more about people and their real needs, and you’ll be able to make some helpful adjustments in your relationships.
The concept of social styles originated with Hypocrites back in 400 BC. He described four basic temperaments: melancholy (the Analytical), choleric (the Driver), phlegmatic (the Amiable), and sanguine (the Expressive). He asserted that the elements inside the body (phlegm, blood, and bile) helped determine the personality, and those elements were inherited (which explains why some kids are like Mom and some are like Dad).
You don’t have to look too far to see why you are the way you are. I heard a woman say once, “Well, I tend to be assertive and stubborn because I watched my dad walk all over my mom and she just took it and never said a word. Because of that, I learned to stand up for myself” A more accurate explanation would be that Dad was a Driver and Mom was an Amiable, and the daughter turned out to be a Driver like Dad. She had tendencies toward assertiveness from the day she was born.
Nothing is more difficult than competing with a myth.
– Francoise Giroud
I have heard people use the same type of story with a reverse argument: “I tend to avoid conflict because my dad was overbearing and my mom was withdrawn and never did anything about it. So I learned to just avoid conflict and try not to deal with it.” In this case, the daughter turned out to be an Amiable, like her mom. The environment didn’t dictate her disposition; her inherent social style did.
You don’t get to choose your social style-you are born with it. Sorry, that’s the way it is. And it’s not based on the birth order in your family either. You may end up modifying it to some degree based on your culture or upbringing, but you can’t decide that you will be a Driver if you were born an Amiable. You can choose behavior, which means you can decide to act like an Amiable, but you’ll still be a Driver. You might try to be nicer to people and exercise more patience, but when someone drives too slowly in front of you, your natural instinct will still be to feel some level of impatience. You may not act on that impatience and may instead choose the behavior of patience, but you’ll still be a Driver who needs to grow in that area.
So your gender doesn’t dictate most of your responses (and I say most because some are in fact results of gender); your social style does. People have asked me whether I believe culture or environment plays a role in human behavior and response tendency. I do not believe that the environment forms your social style, but I do believe it affects the way you manifest your social style through your personality.
For example, in many cultures and religions, women are prohibited to teach, speak, or lead. As a result, many women would appear to be shy and withdrawn followers. That is not necessarily the case. A woman may have an assertive social style (a Driver or an Expressive), but she may choose a different behavior as a willful (or forced) submission to her culture or religion. She may not have the right to vote in certain countries, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have an internal drive or a desire to be more assertive even though she must stifle that drive.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the strong-willed little boy who kept standing on the pew in church. His mother pulled him down and told him to sit still and be quiet. He continued to stand up until she finally pulled him close enough to her to whisper in his ear, “If you get up one more time, you’ll get a strong swat to your behind when we get home!” The boy gave in and sat on the pew with his arms crossed and his teeth gritted. He glared up at his mother and said, “I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
Men and women may succumb to gender stereotypes and cultural roles, but that does not mean they are expressing who they really are. A man may very well be unemotional on the outside (for the world to see) but experience a great deal of emotion on the inside (that he hides). A woman may fulfill an obligation to her friends by going shopping but feel as if she’s going crazy watching them take forever to decide which pair of shoes to buy.
We are easily influenced as a society. We succumb to fear, peer pressure, and mob thinking. If society tells us that real men don’t cry, men who are born with a natural disposition to emotion (Amiables and Expressives) may condition themselves to stuff their emotions. If society tells us that women aren’t as well suited for leadership roles as men, some women may never pursue positions they could have excelled at.
As we delve into the gender stereotypes, ask yourself if you have fallen victim to these myths and how they might be affecting you and your relationships. Once you come to a deeper understanding of who you really are, you’ll be free to throw off the cloak of gender stereotypes and wrap yourself in the truth of who God created you to be.
As we dissect these gender stereotypes, try to clear your mind of the stereotypes you’ve been fed. Once you set those aside, you can objectively evaluate yourself and others around you. You may find that some gender stereotypes actually fit you (maybe you’re a woman who likes to talk a lot). If that’s the case, I will show you how that is mostly attributable to your social style, not your gender. As you begin to apply common sense with behavior observation, you will discover that many of your male friends and associates like to talk just as much as you do. That’s because they have the same social style as you, not because they are the same gender or the opposite gender.
If you’re a man and you get a lot of self-fulfillment out of accomplishing things, you may think you fit the gender mold. But you’ll see why that is more attributable to your inherited social style. As you start to observe behavior around you and dismiss gender stereotypes, you’ll notice something. Many of your female friends and associates also get a tremendous amount of self-fulfillment out of accomplishing tasks or progressing in their careers. That’s because these women have the same social style you do.
When you set aside your preconditioned ideas about gender, your common sense will kick in and you can start to clearly observe normal behavior in others. You’ll see for yourself that these gender stereotypes just don’t fit everyone,