Happy hump day Maharanis! Our favorite male mind expert, Susan, is back to teach us about the most important communication topic : Listening.
I have been learning about and studying men with PAX Programs Inc. since before my daughter was born. We aren’t in the habit of male bashing in our house and I am quite proud of the fact that my little girls won’t grow up in a house that bashes and diminished men in any way. It simply won’t be tolerated. My plan is to listen to their complaints and offer them something to think about and investigate themselves, rather than join in their complaints about men.
You can imagine the horror when I, the trained workshop leader of Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women, heard the following from my 5-year-old daughter. We just left a play date with some boys she had not played with before. I don’t exactly know what happened, but she was upset on the way home and said she didn’t want to play with them again. I asked her why and she said in a very matter of fact tone, “They need to be trained!” I said, “Why do you think that?” She said, “They need to know how to play with girls.”
I couldn’t believe this was coming from my daughter. We don’t teach this at home. Where could she have possibly heard this? Is it possible that it is ingrained at such a young tender age of 5? Why do we as women think men need to change to accommodate us? Why do we think it is our right to let them know how they “should” be?
In our Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop we teach you to understand why men do what they do. You will find out what to not take personally and how to deal with some of their most annoying behaviors. We teach you how to love men for their differences.
One difference we really have a hard time with is their opinions. When we do not share their opinion, it causes us torture and we desperately want to change them. Most of the torture lies in the way we listen.
Lets take a moment to look at how women usually listen to opinions. Women survive by connection. When someone is expressing an opinion, we listen for connections. We find these connections in points of agreement. When we agree, we feel connected and have more affinity for the person we are listening to. Then, we usually let them know we agree in hopes they will in turn have more affinity for us. Sometimes, especially when we are trying to “catch a man”, we even pretend to agree, which creates distance. It is very important to understand men don’t need us to agree. However, it is torture for us to listen when we don’t agree with someone. Instead of intimacy, we feel a distance, which is scary to us, because we thrive on intimacy.
Now, back to men and their opinions. Men are always revealing themselves through their opinions. His opinions reveal his values, knowledge, and things that are important to him. Men take their values and add all the facts they have gathered over time and carefully form an opinion. This is why older men have an abundance of opinions. They have had a lot more time to gather facts and are very clear on what they value in life.
If you want to get more value and information from listening to men’s opinions, then you need to get really good at something called, Listen to Learn. Instead of listening our normal way, “Do I agree or disagree?” try listening to learn. Listen for what is important to him. What are his values? What matters to him?
The first thing you should do when listening to a man’s opinion is to utilize the 30-second pause. Men are like deep wells. Most of what we want to know about them is never revealed because we interrupt when they are scratching the surface. They start telling us something and we interrupt by asking for clarification, agreeing, or sometimes even asking a completely different question when they haven’t had time to finish the one we just asked. If you have just asked him a question and he is silent, try to wait 30 seconds and see how much he reveals. Silence does not mean he has nothing to say, it means he is thinking about your question. Women often interrupt after he has just scratched the surface; we never get to hear what is deeper in the well. If he pauses, remember the 30-second pause for yourself and give him a chance to provide additional information. If he is finished and has nothing more to say, he will let you know.
Secondly, just listen. Refrain from trying to come up with what you are going to say next. This will prevent you from listening fully and understanding where he is coming from. You can employ this tactic in any conversation. I guarantee you will become a better listener and people will reveal more to you because you don’t interrupt them the minute they pause.
Another thing you need to do is remember to breathe. We often have a very physical response when we don’t agree with someone. It feels like we can breathe, our throat is closing, our temperature is rising, and we need to launch into a rebuttal immediately. Take a breath; receive whatever he is talking about. Remember Listen to Learn. What is he revealing? What is important to him? What does this explain? Maybe there is a good reason for his opinion.
If you learn to listen this way, you will get to hear much more than the surface of his opinion. You will get to hear his commitments, dreams, and what he is truly passion about.
Workshop Leader, PAX Programs
Does anyone else feel like Susan is the fly on the wall in their home? Seriously, everything she talks about seems to hit home. Back in a bit!