This goes on my new year's resolutions.
Wife: You never talk.
Husband: You're absolutely right…so tell me what it is that you'd like me to agree with.
A few years back I was on Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, a television magazines show geared towards women, pitted against two females on the topic of male/female communication.
She asked me: "Why don't men talk?"
I responded: "It's because when a woman says that, what they really want is for the man to listen, agree with what the woman says and then change what he feels, thinks and does according to what she wants and to do it with a smile, because she only wants what's best for him.'"
She replied with a smile: "And what's wrong with that?"
That's why men don't talk.
What's the solution? Men (and for that matter women) do not like to feel manipulated. And when a women says, "We need to talk" but means "I need to talk and you need to listen and agree with a smile, men feel manipulated.
If instead a woman was less pushy, more forthright and asked for what she wanted or needed, she might do better. If for instance she were to say: "I would like to ask you something and I'd like to do it when I can have your undivided attention and when you think you can listen with an open mind and then respond. When would be a good time to have that conversation?" as verbose as that might seem, its respectful quality would have a better chance of a favorable reply. In fact there is a very good chance that the paranoia triggered in the guy would cause him to give her his undivided and open attention immediately.
If a woman responds to this with: "I'm not going to walk on eggshells or ask his permission to speak with him" she certainly has the right to blurt it out the way she usually does. But then of course he has the right to tune her out for being so pushy and rude.
© 2007 Mark Goulston