To create the kind of situation that enables men to communicate fully, remember this:
For too many people, Valentine’s Day can be a setup for men to fail and women to be disappointed. Something you can do to turn this potential disaster into a contribution to you and your relationships is provide quality information regarding what you would like to receive! Because many women mistakenly believe that a man should already know what they want – and think it doesn’t really count if you have to tell them – most men will not know how to succeed at Valentine’s Day. The majority will fail for lack of useful information.
To Provide Quality Information, first ask yourself, “What do I need that day?” In other words, “What is the thing, that if it doesn’t happen, I will be upset?”
Then ask yourself, “After I have what I need, what would make me happy?” It could be as simple as a personal message in a card and some really good chocolate!
Thinking about what you need and what will make you happy will get you headed in the right direction. If you’d like to take it further, there are three more very important steps. Read these articles, which contain a lot more on creating a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Averting Valentine’s Day Disaster!, Newsflash: St. Valentine Sworn Enemy of Romance and Searching for Intimacy in a Box of Chocolates
Have you been practicing being safe for men to talk to since the last Tidbit? How do you know if you’re doing it well? Why – if they’re talking!
Once men start talking, it’s important not to stop them accidently. How women usually stop men in the middle of expressing themselves is by interrupting. To us “multi-taskers,” very few things qualify as an interruption. But for our single-focused hunter counterparts, almost everything is!
Avoid most of what women do when we talk to each other: agreeing verbally, rephrasing your question, prompting the answer and nodding excessively. Try this for a couple of weeks and notice how much more men have to say.
While men are often accused of being shallow, they are actually the opposite. They are like deep, deep wells. When you ask them a question, they consider it seriously and “go to the well” for the answer. First he’ll tell you what’s on the surface. Then he’ll pause, which means the first bucket is empty. If you wait and give him a chance to draw up another bucket, you will get to hear what is beneath the surface. With each bucket, his answer will get more detailed, complex or emotional. When he’s said everything he wants to on a subject, he’ll announce, “That’s all I have to say about that” or something like that.
The key to intimate conversation with men is giving him the time to draw up that next bucket. The way to do this is by practicing the “30-second Rule.” This means that when he pauses, instead of jumping in with your opinion or asking for a clarification or rephrasing your question, count to 30 silently while listening with continued interest.
For a list of great questions to ask the men in your life, read Learning About Men From Men.
If you’ve been implementing the 30-second rule, and practicing being safe to talk to, at this point you are probably hearing a lot of opinions. This may not be good news to you! Women often struggle with the wealth of opinions men offer, mostly because women don’t know what to do when they disagree with a man’s opinion.
The most natural way to listen to someone’s opinions is to see if you agree or disagree with them. If you disagree with them, then you have two options: argue or bite your tongue. Neither one is much fun and they both create distance – the opposite of promoting true partnership.
We have an alternative that naturally results in more freedom, intimacy and the experience of partnership. It works because a mans values, standards and ethics are always present in his opinions. Try this: While a man is expressing his opinion, instead of asking yourself the question, “Do I agree or disagree?” asked yourself “What is he revealing about himself right now?” or “What is he showing me?” If you listen this way, you’ll hear what is behind that opinion – his commitments, his passions, his integrity or his dreams.
The tasty tidbits we’ve sent you lately have been about listening to men. But how do you talk to men effectively?
Men tell us they love listening to women talk, especially when we’re excited about something. Listening to a woman share her passions gives men a sense of well-being. But we’ve all seen men “glaze over” in the middle of our conversation. What’s happening there?
This has to do with the way men think and the way men listen. Being single-focused, when men are listening they are totally focused on what we’re saying. They’re trying to figure out “the point.” And they’re trying to remember what we’re telling them. The glazed look happens when we overwhelm men with too many details that they can’t catalog because it’s unclear what the point is exactly.
Of course the point is unclear, because there usually isn’t a point! We are just expressing our thoughts and want to be heard. If you’d like the man in your life to not glaze over, then you must spare the details. Only include the details they need to understand what you most want them to know about you or your experience. Save the play-by-play for your girlfriends.
To help the men in your life understand how you express yourself and really “see” who you are as a woman, send them to Understanding Women to help men understand women!
While men are Single Focused, women have “Diffuse Awareness.” Diffuse means to pour out in every direction. Explains a lot, yes? It is women’s diffuse awareness that causes the ever-popular multi-tasking that women are famous for. Our awareness of many needs causes us to try to meet them all at once!
Diffuse awareness even effects our vision. Women have “scan vision,” which enables us to enter a room and scan for an item. Imagine how useful this was to our ancestors, scanning a meadow for edible food. Scan vision is what allows women to find things much more quickly than our Single Focused counterparts, whose hunter’s vision allows them to cast a spear (or baseball) with remarkable accuracy but makes it difficult to find the needle in the haystack.