Listening is one of the most overlooked aspects of effective communication.
Sorry, what were you saying?
If you’ve ever felt like your man is indeed from another planet – nay galaxy far, far away – you’re not alone, sister.
Just recently, a best friend and I bemoaned the fact that our husbands were, at times, frustratingly highly skilled at offering unsolicited advice, but were far less capable listeners. Why can’t men just shut the f*** up and listen? Why do they have to offer solutions when you’ve never sought them? It’s an age-old relationship problem psychologists have long counselled couples about. So, why are men’s and women’s relationship needs so different?
Relationship experts say generally speaking, when we women have a problem, we usually want to sit down with a friend or their partner and talk about the issues, mull it over, express our feelings about the problem and receive empathy and encouragement. Above all, we just want to feel listened to and heard. Only after we’ve received this support do we want to move into problem solving, receiving advice and discussing solutions.
So, we women often become really frustrated and annoyed with our male partners when we try to talk with them about a problem, because men just seem to want to jump straight in with solutions and unsolicited advice. How many times has your loved one, bless him, said something like: “If you just do it like this…” or “You should have just done what I told you…” Gah!
However, clinical psychologists do concede many men are also bad listeners, cutting straight to problem solving when you just want to talk and feel listened to. And some men feel compelled to offer unsolicited advice for no reason; when you are actually more than capable of dealing with the situation by yourself. So, why do they do this?
For some, it may be a form of chauvinism, with the underlying belief that you as a woman can’t cope without their help and guidance. Grrr! Others may be well-meaning and genuinely want to help, jumping in with solutions and advice too quickly. Which category does your man fit into?
Another part of the puzzle is that relationship experts say men are genetically programmed to be problem solvers; and problem-solving behaviour rather than exploring feelings and motivations is encouraged in the majority of boys as they grow up.
The solution? They say to try encouraging our partners to be better listeners by explaining to them we’d really just like to talk about our problem and have him pay attention to us and really understand before he comes up with solutions. What’s more, we may have to gently remind him of this each time we want to talk about a problem. Sigh.
But if this doesn’t work, and if the man in your life continues to jump in too soon with solutions and unsolicited advice, you could try:
a) Punching him in the arm (er, just kidding) or
b) Talking to the women in your life for the empathy and understanding that you need, then…
c) When you’re ready to address the problem, talk to the man in your life for solutions to your problem.
Intimate relationships sure aren’t easy at times, but hopefully the bargaining will pay off. What do you think? Why don’t men listen to women and offer unsolicited advice?
Images via listcult.com, kikiandtea.com, huffingtonpost.com, someecards.com