From Maesk Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Couples Communication

Communication Differences between Men and Women

“He should just know what I want if he loves me,” she exclaims.  “I try to solve her problems, but she gets mad when she’s upset and I give her advice,” he declares.  Both of them think they are right.  And both of them have a right to see it that way.  Both of them would be wise to learn to see it from another point of view.

Individuality notwithstanding, the stereotypes are somewhat borne out by research:  men are generally problem solvers and women generally want intuitive, compassionate responses.  To put it another way, when we approach our partner with a problem, we expect them to react the way our best (same sex) friends do. Or to put it another way: Men “fix” and women “feel.”

"And here's what you SHOULD do, wife..."

Men most often communicate in order to solve a problem, and they feel a sense of responsibility and love when their partner is upsetWhat he doesn’t realize is that she is not generally asking for advice, unless she comes out and says so.  Instead, she would like to be listened to and valued while she processes her problem verbally.  It tends to go something like this:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “Well, you should just quit that job and look for another.  Here’s the employment listings.”

When he jumps directly to his solution for her life, she feels belittled, as if he feels she is not capable of adult decisions.  She really just wanted him to listen, not solve!  Let’s look at a better way:

She: “I got so mad at my boss today.”

He: “You seem really upset. Tell me more.”

“If you LOVED me you would just KNOW, husband…”

A mistake that women often make when communicating with the opposite sex is called “mind reading,” that is, expecting to just hint, sigh, glare, or otherwise get him to pick up on what she wants.  This conversation might go:

She:  (sarcastically) “That trash really smells, doesn’t it?”

He: “Sure does.”

Of course, she wanted him to take the trash out, not agree with her!  She winds up frustrated and furious that he didn’t bow to the control, hint, guilt and manipulation barely hidden in that remark.  A better way would be:

She: “Would you please take the trash out sometime in the next hour?”

He: “Sure, it’s my turn anyway.”

Women are socialized to be tactful, accommodating, and indirect, but this does not serve them well in the real world.  Instead, women (and indeed, men as well) should be DIRECT, BRIEF, and SPECIFIC when asking for what they need.  This could save a lot of resentment; we all appreciate honest, courteous, and upfront communication. 

So it goes like this: men, you get in a lot of trouble when you offer solutions instead of focused, eye-to-eye, undivided attention and a listening ear when she is sharing her problems with you.  And women, you shut down any hope of getting what you need when you hint, sigh, use sarcasm, or otherwise expect him to read your mind.  Instead, be direct (“the trash”), specific (“within the next hour”) and courteous (“please”).

Communication is a skill that must be learned, but the basic principles listed here can go a long way toward each person getting what they want - a “win-win” for all parties.

From Maesk Group Counseling in Fort Lauderdale - Healthy Communication Tips

“Finding your voice” is a wonderful benefit of therapy, as you learn here that you have both a RIGHT to ask for what you want and the WAY to state your needs respectfully.  Some basic tips when you are “saying what you need to say:”

Use “I Need” instead of “you should.” 

It is not OK for you to tell other people how to live their lives. “Saying what you need to say” is NOT a license to judge, criticize or otherwise counsel others!

 It IS OK to require them to treat you with respect, but you must first ask respectfully. This means not yelling your message at them. Not using sarcasm or anger. It means speaking up firmly and courteously about what you will or will not tolerate.

Speak honestly, clearly and directly—don’t hint, manipulate or guilt-trip others. 

We get in trouble when we expect others to “just know” or read our minds. This is a common pitfall when dealing with the opposite sex. Women, most guys don’t get all the hints and signals that your girlfriends do. It’s not a sign of any lack of love. “Say what you need to say” without playing games.

After you say what you need to say, take responsibility for what comes next.

You have choices here. Maybe you’ll get what you’ve asked for, maybe you won’t. The next step is to decide what is required in order for you to stay in the relationship or on the job. Do you need to require marital counseling? Do you need a different job where you are respected? Do you need a time apart? Do you need to hire help to get things accomplished which are being neglected?

Then, do what you need to do.  Say what you need to say.  And let me know if I can help in that process.