The relative success of every relationship you maintain in life hinges on communication. It is the foundation and bedrock of your bond with other people. Communication: Can it get any more basic than that?
No. And as a result, you may assume that we are all experts in the field of good communication. Of course, such an assumption is false, and even absurd. Because as we well know, the most common relationship predicament, when you boil it down to the essence of the problem, is communication.
We have difficulty with it and submit to almost unmanageable urges that compel us to act in a manner divergent from good relationship behavior. Men are the main offenders in this epidemic. We have that massive male ego to contend with for one, and an almost primordial instinct to "win" at every endeavor we partake in.
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When we unleash these typical male forces in the confines of our relationship, we blaze a trail of self-destruction. We start a pattern of dysfunction that breeds contempt, malice and the eventual downfall of the relationship. When all you have to do to prevent it is communicate with your woman, being a good partner looks to be a piece of cake, right?
Sure. Then why do most men drop the ball and fail to have a successful relationship with a woman? Check out the statistics or just reflect on the people around you. When it comes to good communication, men suck, and to be honest, many women are not much better. Females may have an innate sense for conflict resolution, but the bottom line is that we can all improve the way we communicate with each other.
Proper communication is so basic, yet we fail to execute most of the time. For that reason, the rules to get there are not rocket science. So if my advice seems more suited to a class of grade school punks, don't be offended or surprised. Sometimes kids can be used as an example to show adults how to get along in social situations. Just go to a local park in the summer to check out a soccer game between six-year-old girls and observe the behavior of the parents. But I digress. Men, start with these tips:Make time
That's right, make time. Why the blank stare? You set aside time to watch sports, eat and have sex, don't you? Why should communication with your woman be any different? You have to block off an hour or two for quality time with her, whenever possible. Prioritize it. Make the effort to sit down across from her after a long day to discuss work, friends and your relationship. Heck, you can talk about the weather for all I care. Just talk.
Don't force the topic toward the relationship but do seize the opportunity to mention how well things are going or perhaps bring up areas you need to improve on to give her what she needs. In addition, don't shy away from explaining to her what you need from her. Too many men have a problem with this.
Take the time as you sit together, cook together, travel together or eat together to voice your dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the relationship. Just do it in a calm fashion, so as not to alarm her. Reassure her that you're happy (if that is the case) with the overall relationship; you just want one or two things to change. Whatever you want to discuss, just make the time for it and make it a joint effort.
Be an active listener
Sometimes I feel like a broken record but until these universal relationship blunders cease, I suppose I have no choice but to keep on with the same messages. Active listening, as opposed to passive hearing, is one of them.
You've read it before but the truth is that I get so much e-mail from men who have no clue how to do it, that I could write about it every time. It's not that hard to be an active listener but it does require a few traits that men sometimes find elusive: patience, concentration and modesty.
It requires patience because you have to give her as much time to listen to her message as she needs, point blank. Concentration is key because you have to not only look at her, but also focus on her: her eyes, her body language and her voice. What is she saying? What is she telling you? Concentrate.
I include modesty because a lot of men, myself included, have a problem letting someone take the floor for an extended period of time. They like to hear their own voice and want others to hear it too. These men want to dominate the conversation and hold court, so to speak. This is not, sad to say, a trait conducive to good relationship rapport.So toss your ego aside and let her speak. And above all else, let her have the last word once in a while. Hint: It's not a sign of masculine weakness to do so. Focus on her nonverbal communication
Some men are just so damn clueless, it makes me want to cry. They either fail to pick up on nonverbal hints from their partner on purpose, or just plain have no sensitivity radar at all. It's astonishing really, to witness these men in action.
Their girlfriends throw up their hands in exasperation or stare at them dumbfounded and hurt when they turn their backs and walk away or start a conversation with someone else. What's the deal with these men?
Hey, I'm no angel but when my woman is sad, upset or angry, an alarm in my head goes off immediately. I just know. Maybe her body language is less subtle than other women, but still, an instinct in me is set off and I quickly attempt to douse the fire. If you're not as quick to respond, you're either a jerk who doesn't care and does it on purpose, or oblivious to the nuances of nonverbal communication.
Here's the lowdown: Nonverbal communication includes gestures, movements, facial expressions, and other physical forms of body language. Take note, however; it also includes tone of voice, sighs, screams and vocal pitch and volume. Pay attention to all of these whenever you communicate with your lady.
In good and bad times, nonverbal communication will serve as an instant sign as to how she feels about you at that very moment, not to mention how she feels in general. No matter what words she chooses, her body language cannot mask her real emotions.
Let her know you care
This is where men get bit in the behind. Our competitive nature compels us to try to win every fight, to the point where we forget the one simple tenet about relationship conflict: There is no winner. It's time to stop thinking of every fight as a chance to get the upper hand and use rhetoric until she admits you're right.
That's not the end goal you should want in the long run. Because if it is, your woman is going to resent you before long. Not good. Which brings me to my point: Let her know, no matter how bad, how intense and how passionate the fight, that you care. Amidst all your rage and even when tempers flare, take a deep breath and do something to let her know that when all is said and done, you love her.
Touch her arm, stroke her hair, put your palm to her cheek, or just say the words, "I love you." Of course, some women don't appreciate such gestures in the "heat of battle" and may shove your hand aside or turn their back. Don't take it personally and don't get upset. Just get the message across that you care, even if she isn't ready to make up.Do not be one of these guys
The Pretender: This is the man who has the appearances of an active listener but at the end of the day, does not give a damn about what his woman has to say. But give him credit; he manages to fool her almost every time. Too bad he has no idea how she feels at any given moment. His mind is on "more important" things, like his golf game or other women.
The Stage Hog: This big baby has to have all the attention, all the time. He loves to hear the sound of his own voice, to the detriment of his own relationship. Whenever possible, he shifts the focus of the conversation to himself, even if he has done his woman wrong. Do not become this loser.
The Trap-Setter: This selfish type listens to what he wants to hear. He is a selective active listener who turns the tables on his victim to use what she had to say against her at another point in time. His sole goal is to humiliate his woman the next time they fight and ensnare her to make himself look good. But to whom? In the long run, nobody.
The Contradictor: This type can take on many forms. He either refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem and unleashes a fierce temper until he gets his way, or worse yet; he turns his back anytime conflict arises. The bottom line though, is that this child can never take responsibility for his actions or recognize that something is amiss.
The Insensitive Jerk: This noncommunicator can inhabit the body of any other type at any point in time. He is selfish and has his own agenda in mind every time he fights with his woman. For one reason or another, he refuses to show compassion or admit when he is wrong. He can be abusive in a verbal manner or on the other side of the spectrum, hold his emotions in check so that his lady has no idea what is going on inside his small, dysfunctional head. Everyone hates Insensitive Jerk. Do not be him.
It takes time
Although I doubt this will rectify your communication problems completely, I hope it will lead to a greater understanding of your significant other, yourself and what both of you need in order to better listen to each other.
Remember that communication is a two-way street. It requires the proper delivery of a message, as well as an active listener to process it. If you keep that in mind and do so with compassion, sensitivity and hold that ego at bay, you should come out a winner... you know what I mean.
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