After working with couples for 15 years, I've discovered subtle but significant differences between female and male communication styles.
The great news is most guys, although they speak (and listen) quite differently from us, want to please their partners. In fact, one of the most common responses from men is "Just tell me what I have to do and I'll do it!" How can you improve the way you talk to the man in your life? Here are three strategies that work.
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Tip #1: Say what you mean
While women seem hard-wired to drop hints, read between the lines or look for the subtext in a conversation, most men don't pick up on those nuances. For example, if a woman goes shopping with her guy and says, "I love that blouse!" often what she hopes he hears is "Can you buy me that blouse for my birthday?" But men aren't equipped to unscramble that message. They'll simply interpret her words directly as "She loves the blouse" and thinks no more about it. If you want him to buy the blouse, do the dishes or clean the garage, just tell him!
Tip #2: Angle your body
Some experts believe approaching a man head-on can ignite his primal instinct to compete, resist or fight. So you may be unintentionally setting up a confrontational exchange. To neutralize threatening body language, approach him from the side (think 1 to 3 o'clock or 9 to 11 o'clock, not 12 or 6 o'clock) or sit down beside him instead of in front of him. He'll be more open to your message when his unconscious mind isn't sizing you up for combat.
Tip #3: Choose tangible words
One big difference in women and men's communication styles is the likelihood of using abstract versus concrete words. When speaking to your man, it's okay to start with an abstract term but you must quickly move in the direction of concrete words for your message to be heard. Words such as love, respect and romance are all abstract. Same goes for tidying; it's too general. Words like flowers or dishes are more concrete — one can visualize them. So, if you want more romance, give him a specific way to do this, like having a dinner date once a week or buying you flowers on special occasions (specific timing is important because it will help him remember). And if your fave flowers are peonies, tell him — otherwise he may come home with carnations!
How do you ensure you're effectively communicating with your partner?
Meet our expert: Karyn Gordon is a relationship and parenting specialist. Watch her on CityLine weekdays (9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET) or visit drkaryn.com. Find more advice from her here.
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