Thursday, 19 July 2012

Communicating With Men: What's Your Opinion?

Do you need to talk down to your man?

I just read an article in the latest issue of a popular women's magazine on communication strategies women can use to improve the quality of responses they receive from the man in their life when they talk to him. The author of the article is a relationship specialist who offers women three tips on how to "speak their man's language."

Her first tip, "say what you mean," sounds like common sense. Don't, she cautions, say something like, "I love that blouse" when you mean "Can you buy me that blouse for my birthday?" This is because, she explains, "men don't pick up on those nuances ... men aren't equipped to unscramble the message."

Her second tip is quite interesting: "angle your body." Sitting down in front of your husband or boyfriend "will ignite his primal instinct to compete, resist, or fight." It's best to approach him from the side in order to "neutralize threatening body language."

Her third tip is to "choose tangible words." When speaking to your man, she explains, "it's okay to start with an abstract term [such as love, respect, romance] but you must quickly move in the direction of concrete words for your message to be heard [such as flowers or dishes]."

I admit that, as a man, I was initially surprised and offended by this article. It did take me about a year of marriage, I will say, before I understood my wife's code language, but I would imagine every couple goes through this learning curve, and since I was actually born with a brain, I possess the requisite equipment to unscramble her messages, thank you very much. And, oh yes -- I learned in the first week of marriage not to buy clothing for my wife. If she said "I love that blouse," it meant she was wondering whether or not to buy it, not whether or not I would buy it for her, for crying out loud. I only made that mistake once, thanks.

I would also like to think that, if my wife sits down in front of me instead of edging up to me like a pickpocket, I'm not going to explode like some insane male gorilla whose territory is being invaded. Good Lord. Perhaps this is a good tip for a detective trying to wheedle information out of a reluctant informant, but for women and men in a normal, loving relationship? Hmmm.

Then there was the crack about not understanding big words and fuzzy concepts. Me Tarzan. You Jane. Me hungry. Eat food now.

But after my vision cleared and my blood pressure went back down, I began to wonder. Is this how women see men today? Do women seriously believe they are in a relationship with a primitive, brain-locked, dull-eyed galoot who has to be spoken to in small, concrete words and approached on an angle so he won't fly into a territorial frenzy?

Oh, brother. As an author who works very hard to develop realistic characters, I need to know whether or not the current generation of women feel this kind of pat-him-on-the head and hand-him-a-beer treatment is appropriate. Should fictional characters reflect this new perception of modern males? Or was I correct in my initial reaction that this is an unfair stereotype, a Homer Simpson parody, a gross over-simplification of the modern relationship between men and women?

Tell me what you think. We'll call it research!


  1. This post had me laughing out loud. I can't speak for my gender but I personally don't agree with the advice given. It only takes me exception to disprove a theory and I'll bet theres no shortage of them. I would put this kind if advice in with the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus tripe. These are certainly not the kinda of characters I'd like to read in my books. In fact, I'd say these kinda of male sterotypes are usually the ones you add in just to kill off.

  2. Thanks, Lan, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I agree, male characters like these would be like the red-shirted security guys in Star Trek, written in to be written out!

    I wrote this post for fun, but in fairness I should note that the article appeared in the August 2012 issue of Chatelaine magazine and the author was Dr. Karyn Gordon, whose website is found at You might want to check out her advice anyway, despite the fact I'm having a little fun with it here!