Of course all men do not speak alike. My brother, for instance, uses sports analogies in business: “This is a slam dunk!” Meanwhile, my husband has minimal interest in or connection to sports. However, there is a common communication thread with most of the men I know, and Scott Haltzman, MD, puts his finger on this commonality in his book The Secrets of Happily Married Women. In the book, he suggests wives need to learn to speak the language of men, which he calls Man-ese. (It’s just one of the interesting secrets I learned about when reading this book.)
Dr. Haltzman says men tend to be very direct and objective. They make their point, then they’re done. Think about a high-level business meeting and how everyone tries to communicate only the key nuggets of information. Women, meanwhile, are more subjective talkers who enjoy discussing feelings and details of daily events, storytelling, context, etc. (Yep, that’s me.) For women, this type of conversation doesn’t lack purpose. However, men who are listening may not be able to remain focused for the entire length of the conversation, even if they try.
Blame it on biology. Dr. Haltzman says the male brain is just not set up for what we are seeking, and that women should not expect their man to talk like a woman. Instead, happy couples should respect their communication differences. I hear some of you saying, “But my sweetheart used to listen to me for hours and ask me all about my day. Now he doesn’t seem to show the same level of concern.” Again, blame it on biology. During the dating phase, Dr. Haltzman says dopamine and norepinephrine are at their highest levels, making us more talkative and more focused on others’ interests. As the relationship proceeds, the hormone levels fall, along with the constant in-depth communication. (However, you can boost those hormones by participating in new and exciting activities.)
What’s the solution? Wives can usually sense the body language that dear hubby is tired or losing interest. Use the “Talk Less” strategy to get your point across rather than criticizing him for not talking enough or not listening well enough. Here’s how it works:
1. Put your point up front. The average female’s attention span is 15 minutes, while the average male attention is five minutes. Get your point out fast before you lose him, especially if you see his focus wandering.
“I honestly believe that this small change in your communication style, all by itself, has the power to drastically improve your relationship with your husband, making you both oh so much happier,” says Dr. Haltzman.
2. Use fewer words. Did you ever realize that people who talk less are more closely listened to? The more you talk, the less people listen.
3. Speak in his language. Don’t meander and hint about your point. (They don’t get it.) Be simple and direct. Instead of giving all the reasons you won’t have time to make dinner, ask him to pick up take-out. When you need ice cream, a back rub or a hug, ask for it!
4. Give him time to respond. He may be thinking of the best way to respond.
5. Watch your timing. Remember that while women are natural multi-taskers (there I go generalizing again), men usually do not possess this skill. (Although my dear hubby is amazingly skilled in so many areas, he can only do one task at a time.) If you talk to your guy when he is otherwise engaged, he will probably not be able to hear you or remember your conversation at a later point. Remove distractions (including hunger) when possible.
In short, Dr. Haltzman advises being concise and direct. Then you’ll only have to make your point once.
So, do you agree with this description of Man-ese? Do you sometimes find yourself talking and not being heard? Does your sweetie sometimes miss your point entirely or forget what you asked him to do? Share your feedback if you give this “Talk Less” strategy a try.