How To Communicate Effectively

How To Communicate Effectively

Understanding men isn't difficult. Contrary to popular belief, men aren't from Mars, and women aren't from Venus, although the general public might like to believe so.

Truth be told, many of the communication problems experienced by members of the opposite sex are instigated and exacerbated by pop culture. We're bombarded with books and talk shows telling us just how difficult it is to communicate with members of the opposite sex. We're told that we think differently, our brains are wired differently, and our words mean different things. Movies glamorize the communication difficulties between men and women in an effort to create suspense and drama, and sell tickets. 

But are all these communication problems between the sexes really true? In my experience, no. I've spent many years counseling couples experiencing communication problems, and not once has the difficulty been based on the sex of the individual. The art of effective communication is a skill that has nothing to do with gender. Blaming one's lack of communication skills on the gender of one's partner is, quite honestly, a cop out, an excuse to continue the status quo, and a rationale to not take an honest appraisal of oneself. Quite simply, effective communication, whether with a man or with a woman, is based on three basic principles.

1. In order to communicate effectively, you must first listen to what is being said. Although this sounds simple, it often isn't. Instead of really listening, what we often do is listen just enough to formulate our response. In other words, instead of listening, we're gearing up for battle, looking for the weakness, and planning our strategy. If you want to communicate effectively with a man, listen to what he says, and hear what he means.

2. Secondly, stay concrete. Take what he says as what he means. If he says, "I like your red dress better," don't turn that into "He thinks I'm fat, he hates me, he thinks I'm ugly, I'm leaving." Simply take what he says to mean exactly that. Don't read into it, don't exaggerate it, and don't use it as an excuse to attempt to have him soothe your insecurities. If you're insecure, say so. But don't turn his innocent words against him in an effort to seek reassurance.

3. Finally, communicate directly. If he asks what's wrong, tell him. If you're angry, say so. Don't expect him to read your mind, and don't expect him to chase after you all day in a futile attempt to drag out of you whatever is bothering you. Take responsibility for expressing your own thoughts and desires effectively. Communication isn't a guessing game, but manipulation is. Don't confuse the two.

Effective communication with a man is no more difficult than expressing yourself honestly and directly. Chances are, if you're experiencing difficulties interacting with men, you're experiencing difficulties interacting in general.