1. If he’s had a rough day, tread carefully.
After a rough day at work all a guy wants to do is come home to his castle and relax for a bit in his fortress of solitude (home office, lounge, TV room, etc.). If the first thing he hears after he enters the door is demands for his time so that you can talk, you’re going to end up in a very one-sided, unproductive conversation. Give a man some time to unwind before you jump right into his personal space. Sure, you may need to know what he wants for dinner or update him on bills that need paying or kids that need disciplining, but chances are some of that stuff can wait until after the poor guy relaxes his mind a bit. This may seem like common sense advice, but some women need to hear it: If you want a productive, engaging conversation with your man, give him some time to unwind when he gets home.
2. Don’t lose him by changing topics.
I don’t know who invented the term “go off on a tangent” but I’m pretty sure it was a guy referencing his conversation with a woman. I’m kidding! But seriously, if you have his undivided attention, don’t lose it by losing yourself. Keep him engaged by having a point in focus. On the other hand, if you’re prone to going off topic, try letting him know WHEN you’re going off topic. For example, if you’re talking to your husband or boyfriend and you find yourself wanting to go off on another tangent, quickly say, “NEW TOPIC!” and carry on. You’re doing this for his sake because, 1. It will help him to shut off his problem-solving device for the first topic, and 2. It will allow him to follow the conversation without getting annoyed, bored, or overwhelmed with information.
3. Do not insult or belittle him.
Here’s the fastest way to make a man ignore every word that comes out of your mouth: insult him. Name-calling, belittling, and other forms of verbal putdowns won’t win you any awards with the man you’re trying to talk to. The bigger the ego, the more obstinate he’ll get when you insult him. I personally advise guys to not tolerate any form of name-calling and belittling when arguing with the woman they love. Why? Well, because I expect them to keep things clean as well. Yes, it’s difficult to keep hold of your emotions sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. A high-quality man won’t make a habit of verbally abusing you during an argument, therefore you should grant him the same courtesy.
4. Avoid asking him for help if you have zero intentions of following through.
One of the most annoying things you can do to a man is ask him for his advice and then NOT follow that advice. It’s kind of like the story of the boy who cried wolf. You cry for help and want his input, but you repeatedly choose to go in the opposite direction. This sort of behavior will cause him to not take you seriously when you want to communicate. Remember, men have a desperate need to feel respected. If he sees that you habitually choose not to follow his advice, your cries for help will fall on deaf ears.
5. Don’t attack the things he’s passionate about.
Here’s the thing. If a man has a hobby or pastime that he truly enjoys, avoid making his interests the enemy. Now, I know as a woman you may have to set a boundary when your man begins to take his eyes off of what’s most important (you, family, health, etc.), but you can help him to reassess his priorities without demonizing his passions (assuming they’re not illegal or unethical of course). For example, if he’s spending too much time playing golf on Sundays, tell him that you’d like for him to spend more time with you on Sundays because of __________. Don’t tell him that he shouldn’t be playing golf and for heaven’s sake don’t tell him something that insults his tastes like, “golf is for losers”, etc., etc. Always communicate what you need from him without making it seem as if you want to take his fun away from him. In short, don’t act like his mother.
6. Don’t assume he knows.
Never assume that he knows exactly what it is you’re trying to communicate to him. Last time i checked, men haven’t learned how to read the female mind. We have some committed scientists working on it I’m sure, but right now it’d be best if you didn’t assume we know what you’re talking about. Have you ever seen a man and woman get into a white-hot argument and the guy has this puzzled look on his face with open hands and outstretched arms? He usually has one or both eyebrows raised with that clueless “What in Davy Jones’ locker is this woman talking about?” face. Sooner or later, you’ll hear him outburst with, “What are you TALKING ABOUT?” This is the sad scenario of a guy who honestly doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about, and usually she feels hurt or insulted because she thinks he’s either playing dumb or being insensitive. Ladies, I say this with nothing but love and hope that you’ll hear me out: Don’t assume he knows what you’re talking about, especially during an argument or disagreement. Chances are, if he has that dumb look on his face…he really doesn’t know what’s going on.
7. Turn off “mom-mode” and talk to him like a man you RESPECT, not a child you tolerate.
If you’re married with kids this may be a potential issue for you in your marriage. I’ve observed that some women talk to and treat their husbands like one of the children, particularly when he makes a mistake or has a bad habit. Some women just seem to forget that men aren’t particularly fond of being reprimanded by their wives. Your husband doesn’t enjoy failing you. He wants you to see him as a capable and competent, protector, provider, and lover. But when you treat him like a child after he does something you don’t like, it makes him feel disrespected.
Let’s say he has the habit of walking around with his plate while eating and he accidently drops it. Do you laugh it off with him, say “no sweat”, and help him clean the mess up? Or do you tell him how clumsy he is and remind him that you just cleaned the floors? Or even worse, do you yell at him like he’s a bad six year old? Learn to turn off “mom-mode” and don’t sweat the small stuff. Chances are that if he has the “bad” habit of walking around with his plate while eating, he’s been doing that for most of his life. Habits don’t break overnight. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t try to change some of the things that annoy you, but let’s keep things in perspective. You married him the way he is so it obviously wasn’t a deal breaker while you were dating. So how should you respond to his less-than-ideal idiosyncrasies? Respond as if you just met some wonderful new neighbors and you really wanted them to feel at home. If they came over for dinner and accidently broke the dish, what would you do? Think about it.
8. Use respectful body language.
Body language plays a huge role in getting a man to hear and understand what you’re trying to say. It plays an even bigger role in influencing him. Things like looking away, fiddling with your iPhone, or tapping your fingers only communicates your impatience or lack of interest in what he has to say. Of course, I’m no Emily Post when it comes to the various rules of female etiquette, but I’m sure we can agree that there are certain things (like smacking on gum) that distract and discourage effective communication. For a man, female body language falls into two categories: 1. Is her body language attractive? Or 2. Is her body language respectful? Since I’m not trying to help you pick up guys, I’m not going to say much about attractive body language, but I can say a word or two about respectful body language.
Respectful body language will make a man take you seriously while not feeling threatened. For instance, having your back turned to him while he’s speaking or walking away while he’s in mid-sentence is extremely disrespectful. Another example: folded arms, pursed lips, and a frowning face indicate your disgust and/or displeasure. If you want to keep his ego intact, his defenses lowered, and his heart open to your influence, your body language must be respectful when you communicate with him. Now, I’ll admit that some guys have a higher tolerance for disrespectful body language. Your best bet is to actually ask your husband or boyfriend if your body language is generally appealing or a turn-off during conversation. If you allow him to be honest with you without you taking offence, you might be surprised to hear what he has to say.
9. Don’t attack those he loves dearly.
If he’s particularly fond of his mother, father, brothers, sisters, etc., don’t bad mouth or insult them in conversation. Even if his mother is a complete witch-of-a-woman who makes your life a living hell, don’t attack her. There are better ways to communicate your dislike of someone he’s fond of without sounding like you’re attacking them. If you criticize the people he loves and admires he will take it as a personal insult. The trick here is to respect his choices without judgment. It’s okay to tell him that his mother is overbearing and difficult to deal with or that his friends cause him to spend too much time away from home. Just don’t demonize his relationships. As always, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
10. Give him space to think to make a decision or come to a conclusion.
It takes men a much longer time to process certain types of information, especially when emotions are involved. Instead of harping your guy to give you an answer right then and there, give him some time to process your discussion and come to a rational and honest conclusion. If you rush him, his decision may be based on him trying to please you in order to avoid conflict at the moment. If you give him the space he needs he’ll have a better chance at arriving to a sensible, and often more sincere solution.
11. Don’t compare him to another man.
This point is self-explanatory. If you want to see a man shut down faster than a government agency at quitting time, just start comparing him to another man that you admire. As you should have realized by now, men filter out just about everything you say as either respectful or disrespectful. Being compared to another man that possesses certain qualities you find attractive that we may lack is a kiss of death. It’s insulting and makes it easier for seeds of bitter resentment to sprout. In all honesty, I don’t know a lot of women who habitually do this to their men, no matter how upset or uninformed they may be. But it can happen from time to time, albeit in a very subtle way, so be mindful.
12. Don’t beg and whine as soon as he disagrees.
If your man disagrees with you and stands firm on a decision, he’s made about something, don’t make things even more difficult by whining about it. It’s not lady-like and very unattractive. When he’s made a firm decision, assuming it’s a legal one that doesn’t challenge your morals, stand by him and withdraw. While men and women are equal we are inherently different, and our roles in a relationship reflect those differences. As I said before, let him lead. A high-quality man will want to lead you the best he can, and he’s at his best when his woman is highly supportive of his final decisions. Think of him as the captain and you’re his first mate. If the first mate is always begging to have her own way and whines behind the captain’s back, that could cause a lot of problems for the journey (relationship) ahead. It’s even worse when you have kids. Your son and daughter don’t enjoy hearing about how Daddy’s decision to do so-and-so was stupid. This sort of behavior is a display of disrespect, and when your children witness it, their respect for the “Captain” goes down little by little. I think you know what happens when children lose respect for their father.
13. Never tell him, “You’re wrong.”
Best-selling author, Dale Carnegie, wrote a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. In it he discusses a very powerful technique for influencing someone to your way of thinking. Carnegie mentioned that the fastest way to make an enemy is to tell someone that they’re wrong and then prove it to them.
When communicating with a man, the principle is very much the same. Never tell him, “You’re wrong”, at least not in this way. Telling a man (or even another woman for that matter) that he’s wrong will make him defend his position all the more, especially if you’re having an argument. Even during a regular, non-confrontational conversation, saying, “you’re wrong” to some men is a direct blow to their intelligence, judgment, and pride. This is especially the case if you say it harshly and with an air of superiority in your voice. It would be better to say would be, “Honey, listen. I know I could be wrong here, but don’t you think __________?’ or, ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t __________?” Once again, by focusing on your own humanity (proneness to error), you disarm his defense mechanisms and appeal to his reason. And by posing your appeal to the truth as a question, you’re allowing him the opportunity to think it over and correct himself. If he doesn’t correct himself, move on. It’s usually not worth fighting over.
Also, try to avoid saying things like, “I’m going to prove this-and-that to you” because to a man, phrases like this translate into “You’re dumb and I’m going to show you how with my superior female brain.” Okay, maybe I exaggerated just a little, but hopefully you get the picture. Unless you and your beloved are having a little teasing fun, avoid provoking him with statements that insult his intelligence. Show a little grace-like diplomacy instead.
14. Be silent.
It is often said that silence is golden. If this is true, then women who communicate gracefully must be worth their weight in gold. My one fear with this book is that a talkative wife or girlfriend may think that she can change her less than talkative husband or boyfriend using some of these techniques. Yes, you may be able to get a few more honest, caring words out of him for sure, but don’t expect a man to change dramatically, at least not right away. Believe it or not, silence may be the best communication strategy if you’re far more talkative than your beloved. For a lot of women, their idea of keeping a relationship healthy means to talk to their man about everything and anything as often as they can. Usually, a woman like this is never satisfied with her man’s level of communication. She assumes that the more she talks to him about things the more he’ll understand how she feels, resulting in him changing to love her even better. As she tries to increase talking with him she only ends up talking at him, which, as you probably realize by now, frustrates him and causes him to shut down.
Does this mean you shouldn’t talk to your more silent partner? Well, of course not. If you’re far too addicted to “relationship talks” and find yourself torn apart because your husband or boyfriend doesn’t talk as much as you want, you may be trying to force the issue. Forcing the issue (conversation) will come across as disrespectful to a quieter, stoic man. In many ways, developing a quieter, gentler attitude in addition to using more respectful ways of addressing your issues is more than enough to get a quiet man to open up. If you communicate with him at his pace you have a better chance at influencing him to open up than by forcing an onslaught of words upon him.
I do understand that in this post-feminist world we live in, women are taught to be as vocal as possible about their wants and needs. Because of this notion, women are misled to believe that by remaining quiet and gentle, soft and unassuming, they lose their feminine power and sense of self. Sadly the reverse is true, ESPECIALLY when dealing with high-quality, assertive, masculine men. Knowing when to be silent is a very attractive quality to men of status and ambition. Any woman with enough brass can get what she wants using her mouth, but only the rarest jewels among women know how to use tactful silence to influence the heart of a man.