It is so easy for men and women to misunderstand each other when they are talking because their love languages are so very different. Our interpretations of life are so very different, as we’ve been exploring.
So in this lesson, we’re going to turn the table and give you some specific tips for effectively communicating with men and/or women. This will be handy even to know for how you relate to your children.
Due to the format of this program, I have had to cull my usually longer list down to just six communication tips each, but there are plenty more that can help you, which I discuss in my Truce Program (more on that later).
These are the most important ones, I believe.
So here they are:
Top Six General rules of communication for
MEN TALKING TO WOMEN
When communicating with women it is important to remember these key concepts, which we have discussed already in one way or another:
- Women talk about their problems to connect with you.
- Talking about problems helps her to feel better about herself.
- The quality of her relationships is what makes her feel worthy.
- She is looking for understanding, support and proof that she is loved, nurtured and cared for.
Her primal fear is that she is not lovable or that you don’t love her.
Before speaking ask yourself:
Is what I’m about to say going to come across as being unloving?
With that in mind, here are some other tips on how to effectively communicate with a woman:
- The only reason a woman would stop talking to someone is because she doesn’t want anything to do with them and no longer cares for that person. When you stop talking to her she deems that to mean you feel that way about her. If you do need your space, just communicate to her that your space is about you, not about her.
- Share your feelings as often as you can because it makes her feel more connected with you and that you love her. She doesn’t understand when you close down on her. Ask her for support. This is what she thrives on – supporting others. She will feel very loved if you ask her to support what you want. Just be sure to be clear about how you want her to do that so that she doesn’t come across as telling you what to do and thus leave you feeling disrespected, unappreciated, criticised or incompetent.
- Don’t try to fix her. When she’s talking, she’s often just looking to vent and share her problems to feel better and connect with you. If you aren’t sure if she wants your advice, ask first: “Is there anything I can do to help?” or “Do you want me to offer a solution here, or are you just venting?” She’ll let you know if she wants your advice.
- “You’re not listening” or “you never listen to me”. This actually means “I don’t think you understood what I was just saying” or “I don’t feel like you care about how I feel.”
Be mindful of statements she’ll make like ‘never’, ‘always’ or words that imply that something occurs all of the time, as opposed to sometimes or often. Women say them to express themselves, knowing that she’s not being literal. However, men tend to take these statements literally, due the fact that men are often black and white. She uses it as a way to express and emphasise her feelings.
For example, when I say to my husband “I have nothing to wear” what I’m really saying is “there’s nothing that I think I’ll look good in”. Steve often takes it literally and probably thinks it’s a stupid statement to make, given how many clothes I have in my cupboard. He’ll say, “You’ve got heaps of clothes” is often his frustrated response. What I really need him to say is, “I understand. We need to look at getting you some more clothes you feel good in, don’t we? You’ll look good in anything you wear.” Corny, I know, and she might mock you for being corny, but if you are genuine, she will be grateful for your understanding, or at the very least it will be a bit of a joke.
- If you are making huge efforts and are still feeling disrespected or unappreciated, you might say, “I feel like I’m trying to show you that I love you more and do things that are more supportive, but maybe I’m getting it wrong. Is there something that I could be doing differently to help you feel more supported?”
Ask her how you can love her the way she wants to be loved. It’s possible that it’s not your efforts that’s the problem, but your approach. Repeat back what she just said in your words to reassure her that you understood and so you can be clear about what you have to do to support her. She will be touched at your desire to want to make her happy because she’ll feel like you care.
- Help her with her self-worth issues by:
a) Acknowledging when you think she looks nice or when she’s done something different in an attempt to look nice.
b) Praise and encourage her job as a mother and/or as a working woman, and how she’s doing a great job at managing both if this is the case. Parenting is supposed to be her gender’s forte and these days women are very critical of their own parenting abilities. Your reassurance of her skills will go a long way.
c) Tell her you are proud of the way she handled something or how she parents or manages the balance d) Speak highly of her in front of others.
Top 6 General rules of communication
FOR WOMEN TALKING TO MEN
When communicating with a man, remember that appreciation is paramount for a man to feel respected. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate his:
- Work ethic
- His desire to protect and provide
- His desire to be the expert or the leader
- His need for sexuality
- His need for personal space and to ‘run with wolves’
- His need to fix problems and make you happy
His biggest fear is that he is not good enough – that his ability to achieve in any aspect of life is lacking.
Before speaking ask yourself:
Is what I’m about to say going to come across as being critical, disrespectful or unappreciative?
Here are your best tips for effective communication with a man.
- He lacks the capacity to cope with loads of problems at once, so be mindful of when you are complaining about multiple issues and whether he is getting frustrated. His frustration is coming from his perceived inability to help you or make you happy.
- When you are just venting, say so, because he will want to automatically fix you or talk about a solution. While you are venting, be sure to validate that it’s not his fault. “I just feel like the house is never clean. I’m not saying it’s your fault. I’m just telling you how I feel.”
- Be clear about what you want and how you say it. The biggest confusion for men is trying to determine what women are really saying behind their words. Say what you mean! Men are very literal. Don’t exaggerate or catastrophise a situation. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, then say “This is overwhelming right now.” Don’t make it an absolute.
Rather than saying, “I’m always overwhelmed. Nothing ever goes right for me.” He won’t know how to fix that and will feel overwhelmed too.
- When asking for help, regardless of whether you think he should be doing it anyway or not, you will get a much more amicable response when you make it sound like it is a favour to you. Men like to be needed but they don’t like to be told what to do. “Could you do me a favour?” or “Would you mind doing….” will likely be received a lot better than “When you’ve done that, do this next?”
This tip can be difficult for some women stuck in the fight of equal opportunities, however I urge you to ask yourself again: “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?” Do you want the help, or do you want to keep fighting for the help. Even if it is a ‘favour’, isn’t he doing it because he loves you?
- Don’t assume full stop! Women are big on analysing what men say because we are often so cryptic ourselves. “You women think too much” is something you’ll often hear men say because men are very literal.
Unless he is literally saying he doesn’t love you or care about you then his disengagement is most likely to be about something else. If he is disengaging from you, it’s probably not because he doesn’t care for you, but because he doesn’t feel like the way he does things is good enough.
Let him know it is by acknowledging how he does care for and look after you and the family, he’ll likely re-engage with you.
- There’s a lot of pressure on a man to be an achiever, especially when it comes to money. Fearing he may not be good enough is where his self-worth issues lie. You can help him by:
a) Acknowledging how hard he works, either at work or around the house, or just something he works hard at in general.
b) Encouraging him to be more of a leader and rely on him more for his decisions.
c) Trust his ability to be the provider and nurturer you know he can be.
d) Allow him to make decisions and not judging or ridiculing him for his mistakes.
e) Appreciate the little things he does even when they are things you would expect in a relationship. Just because you think he ‘should’ do it, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate him when he does!
f) Asking him for tips and advice. He’ll love to share his knowledge with you.
g) Praise and appreciate his good decisions.
Okay, time to take these bits and pieces out for a test drive. Like I mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list of ways to communicate with men and women, but there are some really important ones, and enough that should get you seeing even just the slightest shift in how you communicate with your partner and the response you get.
Keep in mind what your partner's wants, needs and insecurities are and help them feel good about themselves. This really is the core of making the shift to improve your relationship. If you’ve been having repetitive problems, then your partner likely has reference points of you being hurtful or critical, as do you.
Someone has to break the cycle!!
This is your chance to change his/her reference points and become aware of how much better things are when someone begins to break that ‘I’ll hurt you because you hurt me’ cycle.