Why does it feel like men can’t listen to women? Here’s how to make it easier for both of you.
One of the most common complaints I hear from women is that men don’t listen. Be it at work where their good ideas are ignored, or at home when their spouse totally forgets what she told him. Why can’t men listen? They can, once you learn how to talk to men the right way.
So the next time you want to talk to your male boss, be heard in a meeting, discuss an issue with your spouse, or connect with your teenage son, remember that there are certain ways to teach men how to listen — and it all starts with your approach.
1. Speak loud enough.
Men don’t hear as well as women. Honestly. It starts at birth and continues through life.
This was first proven studies in neonatal clinics where researchers thought playing soft background music might calm premature infants, enabling them to eat more and gain weight faster. The results showed a major improvement for females and no improvement for males. Further studies showed this was because the little boys did not hear as well as the.
This hearing difference continues through life. It explains why a woman may feel her boss or coworker or husband is yelling at her when he thinks he isn’t or why teenage boys (and men) love loud music, surround sound, synthesizers, etc and we women run from the room in pain.
Bottom line, if you want to know how to talk to men, you have to understand that men don’t hear as well as women — so speak up if you want to a man to hear you.
2. Get their attention.
Trying to discuss a topic with your spouse when he is watching the most exciting part of the football game, the last hole of the golf tournament or is in the middle of some project he has been working on, is totally ineffective. Trying to discuss an issue with a male boss or coworker when he is stressed or working intently on his computer or blackberry is equally unproductive.
If you want to really understand how to talk to men and get them to listen, choose a time when you can get their undivided attention. For your spouse, try over dinner or after their program is finished or whenever the distractions have reduced.
If you want to talk to your male boss, schedule personal time in his office so you won’t be distracted or interrupted. In any case, get their attention by announcing, “I’d like to discuss something with you” and make sure they look up and acknowledge you. Call them by name as people automatically listen more when their name is called.
Many men (and women) get so engrossed in what they are doing that they don’t pay attention to what is being said to them. They just nod their heads or say “okay.” Later on, they have no idea what they just agreed to. Make sure you have their eyes as well as their ears to get the best communication.
3. Get to the point.
We women can spend an inordinate amount of time beating around the bush. Most men, especially in business, want the bottom line. You have to learn to say what you want in thirty seconds or less.
If more discussion is needed after that, at least you have gotten the impact and reason defined. In business, I often advised females who had trouble getting to the point to “think in bullets” meaning make an outline with quick, effective words to state your points. If you do need to think about a problem through or work something out by talking about it, go to a woman first. Then when you have your path defined, seek out the man.
4. Say what you want.
If you are asking for something or recommending a change, just say it. Don’t say “I think” or “in my opinion” as that’s a statement, not a request. A man will interpret this as “being up to him” since you just stated an opinion and didn’t actually ask.
Also, avoid using the word “but.” If you state something and qualify it with a big “but,” you just reduced its importance.
5. Stop talking when you are done.
I have actually seen women win over a man to her way of thinking but then keep the discussion going. This can bring a new point to the table that causes the man to rethink and change his opinion. When you have made your point and everyone agrees with you, STOP TALKING.
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