It started out like any other Friday Fall morning. The foliage was slowly turning to stunning yellows, reds and oranges. Workers and students alike were heading off to their respective responsibilities, likely looking forward to the weekend.
And then the devastating and shocking news started to circulate amongst our friends, loved ones and community.
Click here to read the rest of my article written in the aftermath of a tragedy which struck close to home.
Maybe you’ve had a chance to read Men are From Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray, PH.D., but even if you haven’t, you may have heard this expression. Men and women communicate in very different ways, which often times leads to difficulties in communicating and then spirals into conflict, problems with intimacy and other relationship issues. Here’s a quick outline of how men and women communicate and four ways to break the communication gap.
Realizing that there are differences in the ways people communicate and that these are neither right nor wrong, simply different, is the first step in better communicating with your partner. Especially for those in heterosexual partnerships, these communication differences, which can be significant at times, can result in arguments if partners are not aware of the differences in their communication styles. Once aware of these, the differences can then complement each other. What one lacks one makes up for. What follows are some general differences between males and females. Please note that these are generalities and that of course they are not true with all people in all situations.
Women are naturally discussion oriented. Friendships between women focus on making multiple connections. Men are naturally action-oriented. Friendships between men tend to be larger groups, and focus more on activities than connection-seeking conversation. Women are more likely to stay on one topic or fully deal with one issue before moving onto another. Men are more likely to jump from topic to topic. Women use conversation to establish closeness and intimacy. Men use conversation to establish status and dominance in a group or relationship and to explore a plan of action. Women share more than men and do so more easily and readily. Men keep things to themselves more than women and oftentimes are not in touch with their feelings.
Bridging the Communication Gap
Here are four suggestions on how to begin bridging the communication gap that exists between you and your partner:
- You’re Simply Different: As noted above, the first step to bridging the communication gap is recognizing that is exists and that the way your partner communicates is neither right nor wrong, simply different.
- Focus on Yourself: The second suggestion I have in breaking the gap is to keep the focus on yourself. You cannot change someone else. You can only make changes yourself.
- Show Some Appreciation: One thing that we all want is to feel that we are appreciated in our relationships. Showing appreciation for the people you are relating to will go far in opening the communication channel.
- Listen Closely: I would also like to suggest that when you are communicating that you listen closely to what is being said and reflect back what you heard. Quite often when we are communicating we have thoughts, feelings and reactions to the person and what is being said. We then become focused on these and lose sight of what is being said. So pay close attention to what is being said rather than preparing a defense or rebuttal.
By recognizing the differences in men and women and implementing these simple suggestions, you will be started down the path to more effective communication and a more loving and caring relationship.
One of the greatest struggles in any relationship is overcoming habits and how we have been programmed to respond to certain situations, experiences and even people. But in order to have healthier relationships, it’s imperative that we break away from these detrimental habits and learn new ways to act and react. Here are three ways to break destructive relationship habits so you can achieve more loving and respectful relationships.
Many people I work with wonder whether there is “something wrong with them” and express frustration about ongoing patterns that are habitual and deeply ingrained. Some wonder how come they continue to feel strong anger over things that appear to be minor disturbances. Others wonder why they feel frightened about their financial situation even though objectively they are financially secure. Others wonder why they feel deeply lonely despite being around people and having relationships. Some people wonder why they continue to feel sad or depressed when things seem to be going quite well in their lives. I believe that these fears and feelings and this sense of unworthiness and shame is, to different degrees, inherent in being a human being. Again, they are very deeply ingrain and difficult to modify, but it can be done and here are the steps to take:
- ‘Shine a Light’ on it: A first step in changing a pattern is to bring attention to it, to ‘shine a light’ on it. Now it is seen clearly.
- Do it Different: A next step would be to do something differently, to act differently. Nothing will change if you continue to do the same thing over and over. It is my belief and experience, contrary to some folks telling me that for the relationship to change that they both have to change, that it takes only one person to change their behavior in a relationship for the dynamic to change. (Please understand that I think that two people making changes is the ideal, yet one person doing so will effect transformation).
- Keep Communicating: We are all so busy in today’s day and age so it is important to take time to talk with one another. Express yourself openly, honestly and directly. Make sure that you keep the focus on yourself and avoid beginning sentences with “you…”. These will come across as blaming and will lead to defensiveness and conflict. Discuss and cultivate realistic hope and expectations of yourself, your husband and of the relationship.
Please know that you are not alone and that others are feeling just like you are. But by recognizing that some aspects of your relationship needs to change and by taking the steps (and making the effort) to make positive changes, you will quickly find new ways to effectively, and positively, act and react.