By Cindie Hubiak
When it comes to communicating with a significant other, it can indeed feel like we live on different planets (perhaps even Mars and Venus!). It is true that men and women have different communication styles, but alas, we must learn how to transcend beyond the differences to enjoy a thriving relationship.
Endless communication theories and styles float about, so this may require some experimentation to find what best suits you and your partner. For me and Steve, we discovered what works for us, which I will share in hopes of helping you communicate your requirements and desires.
Make a Statement
In general, for both men and women, we found making a statement before asking a question clarifies why you are asking the question and leaves little room for your partner to make an assumption about your intention. This can be as simple as, “I noticed you rubbing your scar from the prostate surgery. Would you like me to put lotion on the area for you?” Had I not clarified the question with a statement, he might wonder why I made the offer, or may assume I want to be intimate together, potentially causing problems if all I wanted was to help eliminate the itch.
This might sound very simplistic, but may prove very effective in a relationship – personal or professional – to help you receive exactly the information you are seeking. When I make a statement, I get the information I want, not what someone thinks I want.
A Formula for Success
When I want to talk with Steve (or any man) about a particular issue, I first take the time to understand what I want out of this conversation. I then ask when he is available to talk. My next goal is to effectively communicate what I want, which I do by:
- Talking in short sentences
- Using open-ended questions (ones that can’t be answered with a yes or no)
- Making sure my questions are non-judgmental (no blaming or assuming)
- Asking Steve to repeat his understanding of the conversation
- Finding out if he will support my request and if he needs anything to do so
- Letting him know what I gain from his help
This may feel odd at first, but in the long run, this formula will help avoid any miscommunications and your man will be more attune to meeting your needs in other areas of your life.
Steve and I follow Miller’s Law in which all judgments about what someone says are suspended so that we may first understand them without putting our own interpretations on their message. In this practice you focus on how what they say might be true rather than thinking it’s dumb, false or unwarranted.
Know What You Want
Lastly, take the time to understand what you truly want out of the conversation. It may end up being completely different than what you originally thought. Journaling or talking with a friend about the issue can help you become clear about your intention.
Whatever method you choose, keep your heart and the lines of communication open – it’s the foundation to a strong relationship. I also encourage you to leave a comment with your communication tips. What have you found to be effective, or ineffective?