How Too Understand Why ‘HE’ Just Does Not Get It

Men engage the world in a hierarchical social order, “one-upmanship”,
whereas, women approach the world as one in a network of connections for intimacy.

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

Mark stood at the kitchen counter making his lunch before leaving for work when Diane started talking about her job, again (How Empathy Comes To The Rescue).

“I’ve told her what she could do, but she just talks and talks and talks about the same ‘ol thing. I think she just wants to complain about something, anything. I don’t think she really wants to solve the problem if there really is a problem. I’m so tired of hearing about this. I feel like banging my head against a block wall. I’m getting such a headache. I’m glad I have to leave for work. I just can’t take anymore,” Mark says to himself.

Diane shook her head in disbelief. After trying multiple times to get Mark’s attention to talk to him about a problem she was having at work, she turned and walked away.

“Sometimes talking to him feels like talking to a brick wall,” she said to herself as she threw up her hands and walked out of the room. “Why is it so hard to talk to him when it’s so easy to talk to Jenny about the same subject? I just don’t get it. I’d think he’d be interested after all it does deal with my job and our income. If I lose my job he can’t go back to school, like he wants to do.”


Sound Familiar?

Women, have you ever wondered why when you talk to your husband, significant other, or a man at work, it seems like they aren’t even on the same planet?

I’ve talked to my husband and he gives me a short comment that makes me wonder where he is or how his comment even applies to what I said. It’s amazing!!

Yes, he appears to be listening, giving me the nods, the listening comments, “yeah”, “hum”, but when he paraphrases what I said he gives me a couple of words that maybe are “somewhat” related.

Other times I get the first sentence out and I instantly get a solution, a fix, for my situation when I didn’t want him to fix anything. I really needed him to listen. I needed to be heard and understood. How could he possibly understand when he didn’t wait long enough or listen to what I had to say.

The experts say this is a common problem with communication between men and women.


Communication Differences

Remember the book that came out years ago, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” maybe John Gray had it right. Men and women do come at communication and situations very differently.

Deborah Tannen, author of “You Just Don’t Understand”, state that men and women are on different wavelengths and communications is a “dance.”

Some have stated the difference comes from different socialization. Tannen states that the differences in communication styles goes beyond socialization and appears to be an inherent difference in basic makeup of each sex. Studies have shown that at an early age, boys and girls communicate differently.

A video study was made of boys and girls in communication settings – boys with boys and girls with girls. They were put in a room where they could arrange the room and initiate the topics. The boys appeared to be extremely uncomfortable, whereas the girls immediately began talking.

The boys arrange the chairs so they sat parallel to each other and jumped from topic to topic centered around a time when they could all get together and do something. For boys, doing things together is important. Boys do not sit and talk.

Male communication is a way to negotiate their status in the group. They talk to preserve their independence and avoid being pushed around by others in the group.

The girls arranged their chairs in a circle so everyone could be seen. They eventually ended up discussing the problem of one of the girls arriving at a solution.

Female communication, on the other hand, is a way to negotiate closeness and intimacy. To women, talking is the currency of intimacy – best friends sit and talk. Talking about problems is the way to connect.

When men hear “troubles” or “problems” they shift into “fix-it mode”. They respond with a solution. On the other hand, women create feelings of closeness by conversing with friends and lovers about problems. Men have problems figuring out why women have to talk all the time. Eventually, men just tune them out.

Tannen states that men are confused by the various ways women use conversation to create intimacy. Men state that women complain all the time about their problems and troubles, but don’t actually want to solve the problem. Men just don’t understand the ritual nature of women’s “complaining.”

Yet, statists show that men actually talk more than women. It’s just a different type of communication style.

Image by Geralt from Pixabay

Image by Geralt from Pixabay

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive
the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

– Tony Robbins   

Diane, worried about her job because she missed the initial presentation due to her car accident and wanted to talk to Mark about her concerns.

Mark, on the other hand, wanted to help her solved the problem by giving her some tools that would help her get “a leg-up” on the other developers. Since he was also a developer, only in a different field, he gave her some websites she could check out for more information that wasn’t given to them by her boss.

Mark pulled himself together before he had to walk out the door. “Diane, here’s a list of websites that I put together that might give you some extra information about how to create the app you’re working on,” he said handing her a list of sites.

She took the list, briefly looking at it, and laid it on the table, “I’ve been through most of those sites. There’s some good information on them, but that’s not my problem,” she answered.

“Then what is your problem,” Mark said with voice elevated a notch. “I just don’t get it. You’ve talked about this project for days like you can’t figure it out. I am so lost. I really don’t know what you want from me.”

“You don’t know what I want,” Diane said just short of yelling. “You don’t know what I want. How could you not know what I want?”

“Tell me again,” he said looking at his watch. “I have to go in just a few minutes.”

“I need you to listen to me and understand what I am saying. I don’t need you to fix it for me,” she said in total desperation.

“I’ve listened. I went through all of our documentation at work to give you extra information. I’ve heard you say, you don’t want to get fired because of this project. What don’t I understand?” Mark said in a raised voice. “I just don’t get it. What is it you need that I haven’t given you?”

Diane took a deep breath and dropped her head to look at the floor. “I need you to put your arms around me and tell me it’ll be alright. I need you to hold me for a minute. I need to feel you understand.”

Mark paused for a few seconds, putting his lunch on the counter. He looked at her as though he were really seeing her for the first time. His face softened as he reached out and drew her into a hug, holding her tight. “It’s going to be okay. You’re very smart. You’ve got this,” he said while planting kisses on her face and neck.

After a little while, she pulled away taking a deep breath. A soft smile replaced the furrowed brow and downturned mouth that had been on her face, only moments before.

“That’s it? That’s all you need?” he questioned as he picked up his lunch.

Slowly nodding her head, she quietly said, “Thank you.”

“Baby, you are so welcome,” he said.

“Wow, that’s really good to know,” he said to himself as he headed for the door.

Does Your “No” Really Mean “No”

Do you agree to things because you feel pressured?

Photo by Tweetspics on PixabayIt was almost midnight. She was fading quickly, but he just kept talking doling out orders for the next day. Nancy knew he was a “night-owl” but she wasn’t. She needed her sleep. After 15 years of marriage, she thought that he would lighten up, but it hadn’t happened yet.

She felt pressured to do what she could to make the home and business run smoothly, but it felt like he thought she was Superwoman and could keep everything running, while he just ran his mouth.

Why do women say ‘yes’ when they really want to say ‘no’?

We as humans thrive on reciprocity. We depend on each other. Reciprocity and cooperation are “coin of the realm” in our society because we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Together they work better than separately. God created us to need each other. Romans 12:5 “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.”  We need each other. It’s like the John Jackson song, “Better Together.”

But, women are wired and socialized differently than men. They are taught from an early age to be socially obliging, to please others and when they are spoken to they respond back. To women, the word “no” often feels confrontational and threatens a potential bond, work-related, friendship or romantic. Women are taught how to play to get along, whereas, men, play to win.

This often poses a problem especially for women who are pursuing a career. They often find themselves caught in the Superwoman Syndrome, where they are expected to do more, do it better, and keep everything at home done as well.

“We live in a ‘yes’ culture, where it’s expected that the person who is going to get ahead is the go-getter who says yes to everything that comes their way,” said Dara Blaine, a career counselor, and coach in Los Angeles.

Too many times women engage in “token resistance” commonly referred to in the seduction community, denoting a rejection of advances, with the intention of actually engaging in the activity that was initially rejected.

Token resistance doesn’t have to refer to sexual activity. Some women say “no” to a work or family request, but later do what was initially rejected out of guilt internally or externally generated.

Nancy, The Superwoman

Photo by Geralt on Pixabay

Even though it was almost midnight, Frank, Nancy’s husband and wanna-be boss said, “Would you get a notepad and take notes for tomorrow? I have several things that I want you to do. Maybe we can do some of them now?”

“No, I am too tired. I have to be up early to get the employees started and get the kids off to school. You never go to bed until two or three. You’re never up that early. No. I’m going to bed.”

Frank pouted with his lip stuck out, “Okay, I guess I can do it myself. But, you are much better at all of this than I am. I guess I’ll make it.”

“Fine,” Nancy said with an angry attitude as she grabbed her notepad of assignments for the next day.

Frank’s pout suddenly gone, he started assigning additional work to Nancy’s already heavily laden schedule.

A “yes” instead of a difficult “no” tends to overcommit your time, energy and finances

Nancy had given Frank “token resistance” so many times that he knew exactly what it would take to get what he wanted. It worked like a charm every single time. Yet, he didn’t realize the toll it was taking on Nancy. Did he even care?

Frank knew he was making Nancy uncomfortable. He knew she felt bad about not doing what he wanted when he wanted it. Consequently, he pushed all the buttons at his disposal to get her time, attention, and to do what he pleased with no responsibility. When she gave in and did what he wanted he felt respected. But, instead of earning her respect, his lack of sensitivity actually lost him respect in her eyes.

Nancy had taken on too much responsibility in the business. She ran the office, maintained constant contact with the vendor who held their contract, managed and trained the employees, the accounting, plus anything else that came up.

She believed she had to keep going no matter what. But, did she have a choice? When she did ask Frank for help, he would give her a few minutes of his time, maybe. He was so insensitive that he couldn’t see the pressure he was putting on her, until one day she ended up in the hospital.

As he sat in the waiting room to see her after surgery he heard a “code blue” called on her room. For the first time in 15 years, he came face to face with the thought that he might lose her. What would he do if she didn’t make it? Could he run the business by himself? Could he make it on his own? He vowed to change things if she survived. But, was it too late?

Negative Consequences to No Follow Through

Agreeing to do something that you can’t or don’t do often creates hard feelings, bitterness, and resentment in personal and professional situations. One of the negative consequences is that honest communication becomes difficult because trust has been violated. It creates a hardship for all involved.

When you learn to say “no” and mean it, you automatically come across as more confident

Boundaries are the first step to being able to say “no” and be more confident. Setting and enforcing them will also help to establish a better work/life balance.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. from PsychCentral shares 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries.

  1. Name Your Limits
  2. Tune Into Your Feelings
  3. Be Direct
  4. Give Yourself Permission
  5. Practice Self-Awareness
  6. Consider Your Past and Present
  7. Make Self-Care A Priority
  8. Seek Support
  9. Be Assertive
  10. Start Small

Nancy’s Recovery

Nancy’s recovery was arduous with many more surgeries to follow. Frank had to face the decision of trying to run the business rather than just his mouth. The decision proved to be much more difficult than he imagined that day sitting in the waiting room. He eventually gave up the contract and found another position while Nancy healed.

“The ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” said Vanessa M. Patrick, an associate professor of marketing at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. “It gives you a sense of empowerment.”

Using Your “No”

Photo by Mohamed_Hassan on Pixabay

Nancy began to learn how to use her “no” as her body recovered. She basically had no choice. Frank began to learn sensitivity to Nancy and others around him.

Nancy learned that she wasn’t responsible for Frank or anyone else’s actions or reactions to her “no”. Understanding her own long-term goals gave her the opportunity to assess whether the request reflected her value and advanced her personal goals.

She began to practice her “no” in areas of low priority, being more assertive with telemarketers and cashiers at the local store. She found it’s much easier to be assertive with strangers.

Writing out her “no” script made it easier because she knew exactly what and how she wanted to exercise her “no”.

She discovered that she didn’t have to say “no” to everything. But, she had learned the hard way that saying “yes” to everything did not work. She learned to be selective with her “yes.”

People pleasers feel they must reply instantly. Nancy learned that she could take time to think about what was being asked of her. She developed a new habit of thinking before speaking.

One of the harder lessons was that she didn’t need to apologize for saying “no”.  Why say you’re sorry if you’re not? Often, if you express regret about saying “no” the other person keeps asking or pouring on the guilt. Apologies actually bring more requests. If the other person hears resolve in the tone of your voice and sees it in your body language they’ll accept your decision.

Nancy also learned that each “no” is an individual decision. For each request, she learned to ask herself if she really wanted to do it. She learned to be selective with the projects she accepted.

Lessons Learned

Frank learned to not apply pressure. He still tried to use guilt to change her mind, but Nancy learned how to stand firmly without getting angry or raising her voice.

She also learned that she didn’t need to defend her “why.” There was no need to defend. She learned to just say “no” with conviction, without justification. Justifying put her on the defensive which weakened her stance.