5 Tips when Communicating with Men

I hear from both sides continually. Between the two sexes, communication appears to be the biggest struggle. It’s a constant work in progress in my own marriage. The differences in men and women make communication difficult. (I also posted 5 Tips When Communicating with Women.)

My counseling background and years of experience working with couples has given me insight into some of the barriers men and women face when communicating. I realize not all men are alike, but there are some generalities that can perhaps help a woman better understand a man and improve communication.

Here are 5 tips to communicating with a man:

We meant what we said…not what you heard – Thats true 99% of the time. (Statistically verifiable :) ) Men are usually more literal, and frankly simple-minded, so we aren’t usually talking in a code language. Not that women would be… :) Try to hear only what was said without attaching extra thoughts triggered by emotions. Ask if his statement had a deeper meaning before making assumptions. Most likely he meant only…nothing more…than what was said. (I can’t tell you how many classic examples of marriage problems I’ve seen develop with just this one tip.)

We don’t often like to give details – If we said where we were going, who we had a discussion with or what we had for lunch, that’s usually enough for us. We may not like going into detail beyond those simple facts. I understand you may need and even deserve more information, especially when a man hasn’t proven trustworthy, but know its often out of our realm of comfort to provide it. When it’s not a matter of trust, the less you pump for details the more likely we’ll be to share facts, and even occasionally, details.

Our range of emotions are limited – Most men don’t feel as deeply or multi-faceted as a woman feels about an issue. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s just that we are wired differently. If you ask us how we feel, “happy” or “sad” may be as descriptive as we can get. Because of this, men tend to communicate more factually and less emotionally.

When you may tend to cry we may tend to get angry – I get criticized for this point sometimes, but I wrote a post about this issue HERE. There is never an excuse to misuse anger and abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, but anger in itself is not a sin. The Bible says “in your anger do not sin”, but it seems to assume we will have moments of anger. The same things that cause most girl’s emotions to produce tears, often cause a man to develop testosterone-producing anger. A godly man learns to handle that anger responsibly, but it doesn’t eliminate the response. When an issue riles a man emotionally, it helps if you understand his emotions may be normal and you may even be able to help him channel his response to that emotion. Cheryl does that for me continually.

Sometimes we have a hard time communicating what’s on our heart…often we never do – This is sad and we may even know it. The more you make us feel we’ll be respected regardless of the situation or the emotions we display, the more likely you’ll see our true emotions. You can actually help us with this one!

Please understand. I’m not making excuses for men. The basic premise of all of these is to remember that men and women are different. You can read my thoughts about mutual submission in a marriage HERE and HERE. I’m simply trying to help you communicate with a man.

Men, what did I miss?

Wives, any tips on how we could better understand you? I’ve learned a few and could share them, but thought it may come better from you :) .

Do you care to hear my women’s version…even realizing I’m not one?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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26 thoughts on “5 Tips when Communicating with Men

  1. This is very helpful. Would you have any research or experience with passive aggressive behavior. I have read some of the secular websites and it has helped some.

    • I have lots of experience with it. Not sure how skilled I am in dealing with it. I tend to address it head on.  Thanks!Ron Edmondson

  2. A-M-E-N to this post!
    I've been sharing it around to friends like crazy! Thanks for all the good stuff you post, I've really been enjoying your blog.
    Keep up the good work!
    Twitter: imattchell

  3. This is a good post! The funny part is, some women will still look at this post, and us in general, as a lost cause. Not only are there differences, but they still have the same problem we do: We still need the other to really get through this life! I honestly think that angers some.
    Twitter: bryankr

    • I guess that is where being lead by the spirit is important. In our flesh we tend to be selfish and just see our own perspective. It is quite painful when we are not understood. I am afraid today's society tends to disrespect men. Women have gone to the other extreme and have become so independent they are not patient and do not take the time to understand the man's point of view. I am afraid it took me a while and I still get frustrated. I like that we are given "tools" and that this gives us a realistic view we can use to go by. I couldn't do it with out the Lords help either. ;)

  4. I did not realize women's tears triggered men's anger. How intriguing! It's interesting to me because many women (yep, me) cry when we get angry. It's the female version of seeing red for a man. We've hit a wall and have no way of releasing the intense feelings, so we cry. When that happens to me, it's much better to leave me alone to talk it out with a girlfriend and then come back to the issue later with my husband. Female friends often will help a woman get a handle on the emotion and see perspectives. So guys, step back and give her space when she cries instead of charging in like a bull. We'll often have a better chat about it when we've both calmed down. But even better, ask if she needs space before pushing for the solution. That's when the explosions happen. Being cornered when either party can only act on emotion is a lose/lose!

    Thank you for a great post on relationships,
    Angela Breidenbach
    Author of Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life

    • Thank you for your reply. Let me make sure I'm clear. I'm not saying women's tears produce men's anger. I'm saying that the things that would make you cry, would make us angry. To the same situation…your reaction may be tears…ours might be anger. Does that make sense?

  5. I'm a big fan of the Myers-Briggs, and I see a lot of the communication styles having more to do with personality preferences than with gender or sex, although there is correlation between gender/sex and the Feeling/Thinking dichotomy.

    Thinkers tend toward analyzing rather than evaluating. Thinkers tend toward objective versus subjective. Thinkers focus on things rather that persons.

    the fact is, it isn't that that men ARE this way, but TEND toward making decisions based on objective analysis; its not that women ARE this way, but TEND toward decisions based on subjective evaluations. There are women who score clearly on the Thinking side of the scale; men who score clearly on the Feeling.

    Using personality-based understanding of communication style rather than gender based, I believe, helps protect against harmful implementation of existing gender/sex based stereotypes and helps focus on the traits of an individual, despite one's sex/gender.

    • Thanks Kurt. I do think this plays into it. I've actually written about this before concerning marriages and team-building. I'm certified in Myers Briggs. Good stuff. I still believe the male/female differences are huge too.

  6. Ron

    Great posting. It succintly reflects some deeper wisdom borne from experience. I'm looking forward to the "other side".

    I see you also deal with leadership issues. How would you say gender dynamics impact leadership teams? Do you have any postings or thoughts on that?

      • I remember reading an article somewhere a couple of years ago, that in businesses, men and women working on a problem will come to the exact same conclusion about 80% of the time, but will get to that conclusion in significantly different ways, because of the differing ways in which men and women think and process information.