There’s a movie from about the turn of the millennia called What Women Want in which Mel Gibson plays the role of an adman who somehow cracks the code and can suddenly hear what women are thinking. I can’t recall what else goes down — there’s a love story woven in there somewhere — but what’s notable is the fact that there’s a movie about men finally understanding women.
I know, all of the aforementioned is pretty much peak Hollywood, but what if there actually were some magical way that men had a better understanding of what women were thinking, what the statements they made truly meant, what body language would reveal, and how a phrase or suggestion could mean more than meets the eye. The truth is, there is, and it’s been available for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s right under our nose. You know what it’s called? It’s called listening. But it’s not just listening, it’s active listening. Not selective listening or hearing only what you want to hear and then tuning out.
So what is active listening? If you’re a mental health counselor or a psychologist, it’s something you’ve been practicing for some time. It’s a set of skills that lets you help and understand someone after you’ve already built trust and a rapport. By now, chances are you have — if you’re married or have a long-time girlfriend. Traditionally, there are six basic skills to master which include: tuning in, not judging, stopping to think, clarifying when cloudy, summarizing what you’ve heard, and then finally sharing your thoughts. It’s important to leave space for her to talk first before you chime in, seek to fix or correct. Remember, often times a woman just wants someone to truly hear her as a way to get things “off her chest.”
Women are human beings. Yes, it seems odd to have to write this. But often, some will cast women as being from another planet. Once her basic survival needs are met, they’re just like you and me. We want to belong, want to be understood, want to be recognized and want to feel connected. While men and women are most certainly different, understanding this basic premise can help us understand women even better. Empathizing first, before judging and sitting with their statements can help them feel accepted and open up even more to you.
Now, about those statements. We all know the dreaded “we need to talk” phrase. However, you can use it to your advantage, as well. It’s not just a negative framework for something big that needs to be addressed or a way for you to be called out for bad behavior. Call your own “we need to talk” meetings and let her know what you’re thinking or your future plans.
Then, there’s the old “I’m fine” or “I’m okay” when you have just seen her upset. You know that statement is just not true. So take that phrase as a simply a need for space. Take it as such and come back later with an apology or “need to talk” request of your own.
Lastly, there’s the “I’m almost ready” statement. I think the most important word to circle here is “almost.” That is the big key here. “Almost” can be interpreted a ton of different ways and there is not an exact time assigned to almost but make sure you DO understand that you wait will be over at some point. She will be ready sooner than later. Be happy with that. And in the future ask how many minutes (or hours) do you think it will take. For more examples of phrases that are most often misinterpreted by men click here.
Body language can speak volumes. Chances are you’ve heard that if a woman touches her hair or touches you, that she might be interested in you (or at least think you’re cute.) But beyond all of the signs a woman might be flirting with you, you Adonis you, eye contact or the lack thereof, can also be a telltale sign if a woman is telling you the truth or not.
Obviously, making or maintaining eye contact can reveal whether or not a woman is lying. The more truthful, the more likely eye contact will be present. More defensive gesturing might reveal a need to maintain or establish space. Arms crossed, turning her back or looking away might suggest she just need some time and space away from you. Don’t take it personally, it’s her not you.
Look out for shoulder shrugs, heavy sighs, or her throwing her hands in the air. These are all telltale signs that that your lady friend is fed up, completely over it or just can’t imagine doing anything else. These are clear signs of being exasperated or “over” something. The best thing you can do when you see this body language is to simply ask if there is something you can do to help. Just asking can let her know you’re there to help.
Remember, you’re not Mel Gibson. As humans we have to communicate to express our true feelings. Reiterate to your partner that you are not a mind reader, which you can’t guess how she feels and how you are always there for her. Never assume, we all know what happens when you do so, but more importantly we all know how assumptions about how a woman may feel can be terribly damaging and may cause more issues than intended.
By engaging in active listening and truly tuning in, you can help grow your relationship and avoid more conflicts. Paying attention to body language can help you interpret feelings as you see them. And the truth is, you’ll get better the more you pay attention.
Okay that’s it. I’m always happy to help my fellow man understand the highly-complex wo-man.