Anyway, what I think Gray is getting at is emotional intelligence. And I do agree with him that different people hear and react to things in different ways. But many factors influence this, beyond (or perhaps in addition to) hormones. Culture, for one, is a major component of social awareness and relationship management. Take someone who is completely in synch with the dominant forms of behavior in his or her native country and plop them in a culture with different expectations and his or her EQ can drop like a stone.
I recently interviewed an executive, an Indian gentleman who grew up and has spent his whole career in India. At the end of our conversation, I asked him the same closing question I use in every interview: “Is there anything I haven’t asked you that I should have?”
In that instant I felt like “Speechwriter from Mars.” Perhaps I should have thought about potential cultural differences between us before I opened my mouth, but at least I was able to hear and recognize them once he responded. I reassured him that if he answered, I would not feel criticized – that, in fact, he may have some knowledge to share that I know nothing about, so his answer could be a great help to me.
Or unless he gives some thought to cultural differences himself. Communication, after all, is a two-way street. But I do think in that situation it’s more the responsibility of the person native to the culture to lead or guide, just as you would make sure a houseguest visiting for the first time knows where in your house you keep the towels.