3 Quick and Simple Ways to Improve Your Communication With Women
There are three basic tips that I give to guys when it’s clear that they are struggling to communicate with their female partner. As a therapist, I don’t do couples therapy. Especially for marriages. However, relationships are a pervasive problem with almost every adult that I work with and because I work with a lot of adult males, I give them some of the very basics for successful communication with their female partners.
From time to time I also have adult women come into my office and I often request that they drag their husbands in so that I can give them these three tips. Honestly, it’s not rocket science and I’m going to give you the easiest things you can do to bring that success into your own relationship but first we have to establish some groundwork.
Women Are From Venus
Men and Women are wired differently. They just are. There’s mountains of data from studies that show this to be true. This doesn’t mean that one is superior and the other is inferior. They are just different. Uniqueness is a virtue and the psychology of males is uniquely different than the psychology of females. Communication between men and women is often frustrating because neither us or them work to step outside of their own natural way of believing, understanding and doing, to make communication more productive. Men can do some things differently to improve communication with women and similarly, women can do things differently to communicate better with men. The best case scenario is for both sides to put in some effort and meet half way. Yes, successful couples are the ones that compromise with each other.
If you apply your male mental framework to the behavior of women, you’re going to be in trouble. You don’t have to understand everything about women but there are a few core basics that are drastically going to improve your chances. I also believe that I need to include my standard disclaimer here that there are some really screwed up women out there and you should run, not walk, away from them. Don’t ignore the red flags guys. Here are some of the core basics. This would be a good time to take notes. I tell a lot of guys that they should make a cheat sheet until it becomes a habit.
What is one of the number one complaints that women give about men? That men don’t listen. Frankly, they’re right and for argument’s sake, if we were listening, we’d listen better. Yes, listening is one of my proven methods but first you have to learn how to be emotionally present. You need to understand that there is a difference between being physically present and emotionally present. When you’re emotionally present, you’re doing one thing and one thing only: the thing that’s currently happening. If you want to communicate better then you need to stop thinking about all the shit that’s already happened and stop worrying about all the shit that hasn’t happened yet and be in the current moment. Put your damn phone down, look her in the eyes and pay attention.
There are mindfulness trainings and meditations designed to help people with this very thing and you should do some of that if you need to. The hardest part is realizing that your mind is wandering. When you’re emotionally present, you’ll have greater awareness. Women can sense it too. They know when you’re dialed in or not.
The truth is that most people are terrible and I mean terrible listeners. You don’t listen with your mouth and the simplest thing you have to do when you’re listening is to shut your mouth. Stop talking. Pay attention to what your mind does. Take note if you find yourself wanting to interrupt or jump in. Reflective listening skills are super simple. It’s basically just acknowledging that you’re listening through body language and repeating some things back. Most of us can physically listen to somebody if we decide to so put effort into actually listening instead of making it look like you are.
There’s plenty of free content out there on reflective listening, I’m sure there are dozens of YouTube videos on it. Good listening is honestly just a good life skill and it’s amazing what you can pick up about people and situations simply by paying attention to them. Being mindful is a useful skill in general and you will do yourself a favor by developing this skill. It’s good for work, it’s good for parenting, friendships and relationships.
Okay guys, in this order. Be present. Listen. And validate. See, men are fixers. We want to fix problems, that’s how we feel good and useful. Most of the time when we talk about what’s bugging us, it’s because we’re looking for solutions and so naturally we apply what we think is useful and applicable in our relationships. Women hate it when we try and fix them or fix their problems. It frustrates them and reinforces the frustration that they have about not listening. They want to be listened to and understood and when you validate them, they feel understood.
Women aren’t stupid and helpless. They can solve and fix their problems. They can come up with solutions if that’s what they want or they can ask for advice. If they are griping about the frustrations at work, don’t give them solutions or try to fix it. Instead, give them validation. “Oh man, that is SO frustrating…” is an example of what I’m talking about. Women want empathy and providing fixes will be a barrier to that empathy.
As men, we don’t always know when women are seeking validation and empathy and when they are needing advice and help. We need to be more willing to ask for what we need in the relationship and asking our partner to clarify and communicate their needs. The women who aren’t willing to do so and expect their partners to “just know” what they want and what they need are being childish. Personally, women who have this expectation are giving you a peak into their psyche and I believe that this is a read flag. There’s nothing wrong to want, need and expect healthy and functional relationships in our lives. It takes both parties to be honest with themselves and each other. It’s okay to sit down with your partner and take some accountability first by saying that you’re determined to do a better job on your part but that she can do her part by being more transparent about what she wants and what she needs. Ask her to clarify what her expectations are because your goal is a successful and happy relationship.