One thing about neuroscience…it helps you understand even the most despicable, unfair, and unjust behaviors, but it doesn’t keep you from getting mad about it. Sexism, both intended and unintended, is both unacceptable and widespread. Here are some insights from neuroscience to help give women an edge when trying to sell or convince a male audience.
First, the REAL Difference Between Men and Women
Decades of psychometric research has shown a curiously constant variable in terms of dominant cognitive functions for each gender.
In Myers-Briggs/Jungian terminology, people tend to rely on one of two mental tools for making decisions: Thinking (mostly rooted in the left hemisphere of the brain, and this simply means being data-driven, logic-based, and ends-oriented) and Feeling (right brain hemisphere focus and basing decisions on values, group harmony, impact on others, and being means-oriented).
More than two million people take the Myers-Briggs personality type assessment each year, and this goes back many decades. Whether you are talking about any year from the 50s to the current year, men have consistently had the same result: 70% favor the Thinking function, and 30% favor the Feeling function. What I find most fascinating is that women have consistently shown a precise inversion of these results. 70% of women prefer the Feeling function, and 30% prefer the Thinking function.
Thinking/Feeling is the only set of cognitive preferences that is linked to gender. All of the other cognitive tool preferences and orientations (Extraversion, Intuition, Sensing, Intuition, Perceiving, and Judging) are all equally distributed among men and women. But Thinking/Feeling has kept a constant gender disparity–at the exact same ratio–throughout the introduction of birth control, women’s rights movements, disco, glam rock, and the wars of North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Thinking/Feeling split seems spectacularly unfazed by even the most titanic culture shifts. Therefore, neuroscience has only one logical conclusion about Thinking/Feeling preference: it is the only cognitive area that is clearly driven by gender biology.
So, when women want to sell convince or sell something to men, you must factor Thinking into your messaging. But how?
How to Craft Messages When Your Audience Thinks Differently: Thinking vs Feeling
Unless we are informed of the Thinking/Feeling functions AND hyper-mindful in the moment we craft/deliver our messages, humans virtually always default to using our dominant cognitive tools. This means that a woman with a Feeling function will tend to craft messages that are heavily flavored by Feeling. The same goes for men with the Thinking function (this is why men can so often exhibit behaviors that are best described as cold and heartless).
Let’s use an example of a woman with a Feeling preference who is trying to sell a medical device to a male hospital administrator with a Thinking preference. Her pitch might goes like this:
While there are other devices on the market that cost much less, our device is the only one proven to double resuscitation rates and save lives.
What on Earth could be wrong with that? Sounds like a pretty good pitch, doesn’t it? Well, here is what is going through a Thinking preference mind.
How long will it take to train my staff to use this new device? How will the training be conducted? What are the maintenance costs? Are the studies rigorous and robust enough to protect us in a lawsuit when we don’t resuscitate a patient? How big is it? It is susceptible to damage if we have to move it around a lot?
Notice the focus on the cold, hard facts? Notice how the Thinking mind is focused on resources, costs, drain on human resources, and risk? It’s not that the Thinking type is offended by the Feeling-centric message, it’s just that his brain is hungry for Thinking-centric data (more details on this topic here). Fail to provide this data, and you’re far more likely to lose the sale.
The best approach is to combine the two:
While there are other devices on the market that cost much less, our device is the only one proven to double resuscitation rates and save lives. It is no larger than the device you already use. It only takes about 2 hours to train people to use it, and we come onsite to provide the training. We’ll even offer multiple training sessions to accommodate different shifts and schedules. We guarantee the device for 3 years, so if anything stops working, we provide a new replacement. We over-engineered it to be sturdier than our competition, so you would have to try very hard to break it. We’ve conducted studies in 15 hospitals around the country, and all reported dramatic improvements in resuscitation rates.
Now we have a message that appeals to Thinkers AND Feelers.
Got a question about how you can make sure your message is properly optimized for multiple personality types? Use the contact form below to provide a tagline or “elevator pitch” and we’ll give you some neuroscience improvement tips at no cost.